Attorney arraigned for attempt to smuggle drugs to jailed gang member

LOS ANGELES – A defense attorney who allegedly tried to enter the Antelope Valley Courthouse with two bindles of rock cocaine in his wallet, one month after allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into a jail holding facility, was arraigned on charges Thursday.

Kenneth Roger Markman, 47, pleaded not guilty to seven felony counts – one count of conspiracy, two counts of bringing drugs into a jail and four counts of possession of a controlled substance in a jail, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. Officials say Markman’s alleged offenses were to benefit a street gang.

Markman was first arrested Oct. 21, 2011, after he allegedly tried to smuggle 26 balloons containing heroin and meth into a jail holding facility at the Foltz Criminal Courthouse. Markman allegedly tried to deliver the drugs to his client, Jorge Zaragoza, 34, who had a court appearance scheduled that day in an attempted carjacking case, said Deputy District Attorney Paul Nunez.

According to the complaint, Zaragoza, and his girlfriend, Jennifer Vasquez, 26, both suspected 38th Street gang members, conspired to acquire the drugs.

A month later, on Nov. 18, Markman was arrested again after a security officer saw suspicious items in the X-Ray machine as Markman tried to enter the Antelope Valley Courthouse. Markman allegedly grabbed his wallet and attempted to leave the building but was detained by a Sheriff’s deputy. Suspected drug paraphernalia and two bindles of rock cocaine allegedly were found in his wallet.

Markman was released on $25,000 bail Thursday. If convicted, he faces more than four years in state prison.

Zaragoza pleaded not guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime, bringing controlled substances into a jail facility. He is being held on $75,000 bail.

An arraignment date for Vasquez, facing the same charge as Zaragoza, will be announced later.

Both Markman and Zaragoza are scheduled to return to court Jan. 12 for a preliminary setting.

(Information via press release from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.)