Fund Raiser for Top AZ Republicans Arrested on Felony Drug Charges
A Phoenix woman, Emily Pitha, 34, has been arrested alongside her boyfriend, Christopher Hustrulid, 36, after police found a meth lab and a stash of other drugs in her home.
Pitha is a former staffer for retired Republican Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and also worked for Senator Jeff Flake. She currently works as a Republican fund raiser and is part of the campaign to get Arizona Senator John McCain re-elected. On the other hand, Hustrulid’s LinkedIn page says he is a procurement liaison.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Pitha and her live-in boyfriend were arrested on Tuesday after Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies obtained a warrant to search her home. Inside, the deputies found an active meth lab, numerous chemicals, and drugs such as methamphetamines, cocaine, LSD and heroin. Officials also reported $7000 in counterfeit money.
Circumstances leading to the Arizona Arrest
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) says the case started when undercover detectives and U.S. Postal Inspectors received a tip about a package coming in from Europe that contained drugs. Hustrulid went and signed for the package, which was later found to contain 250 grams of ecstasy.
Consequently, the police searched Pitha’s home in Bethany Home Road, Phoenix, where they uncovered the secret drug operation. The couple lived with two children aged 5 and 10 years old, who were reportedly at a daycare center when the police showed up at the home. The active meth lab was found in the backyard allegedly fitted with surveillance cameras and a ventilation system.
Neighbors were left in shock when they heard what the couple had been doing. Zackious Gower told KPHO News that nobody would have guessed their neighbors were committing a crime because they seemed like a “typical young family” doing activities such as barbecuing and going on bike rides.
ABC15 quoted another neighbor, Jack Griffin, saying, “He seems like a great guy, but I think that is what allows it to be successful – you don’t look like the stereotype. I would never believe that. But when you see things like this on the news, no neighbor thinks their neighbor is doing something like that. You just have to be cautious.”
Couple Taken to Court
On Wednesday, Pitha and Hustrulid were brought before a court where they face charges of drug possession and child endangerment. MSNBC reports that none of them had a lawyer and they are being held on bonds of $20,000 each.
The police allege that the couple put the children at risk because the drugs were easily accessible. Another shocker was Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tweet which said that explosive material had been found in Pitha’s home.
Officials from Senator McCain’s re-election team have been quick to distance themselves from Pitha. According to NY Daily News, a campaign manager said, “We commend the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement officers in their fight to keep our community safe from illegal drugs and associated criminal activity. The campaign immediately terminated any relationship with Ms. Pitha upon learning of her alleged involvement in the operation.”
The couple’s court date has been set for May 4.