LAWRENCEVILLE -- An alleged drug kingpin who vanished on the eve of his 1999 trial and became an international fugitive finally faced a Gwinnett judge Tuesday, pleading not guilty to a new slate of charges that could land him in prison 30 years longer.
Gwinnett authorities, in conjunction with the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, had been on the trail of Norcross High School graduate Kip Genter, 37, for the last 12 years before his May 15 capture near Miami. Charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine, Genter fled Gwinnett County in November 1999, on the day jury selection was to begin in his trial, authorities said.
In a Tuesday morning arraignment for Genter, a plea of not guilty was entered to five counts in a pumped-up indictment that carries a max penalty of 85 years in prison, up from the 55 years that Genter previously faced, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Dan Mayfield.
A new indictment handed down June 20 adds a count of bail jumping, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and the "highest level of trafficking in cocaine," Mayfield said, calling Genter's case the oldest active criminal case in Gwinnett County.
Mayfield said the previous indictment was watered down to accommodate about 20 codefendants charged alongside Genter. Each of those cases has been disposed, with most defendants having completed prison terms, officials said.
Wearing wire-rimmed spectacles and a green jail jumpsuit, Genter didn't speak during the brief hearing and was led away into custody. He remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.
Alpharetta attorney Stephen Davis, retained to defend Genter, said he has not filed a motion seeking bond for his client. Outside the courtroom, Davis declined to discuss Genter's whereabouts over the last decade.
Genter was raised in an affluent family, owners of a vending machine company, who have since relocated to Texas. After high school, he fell into the early '90s club scene when powder cocaine was en vogue, officials have said.
In a time before Mexican cartels had a significant local presence, Genter allegedly transitioned from cocaine user to dealer and quickly rose to the head of a multi-county cocaine and marijuana trafficking ring in metro Atlanta.
After he fled, intelligence gathered over the years suggested Genter had been living in Europe and using two aliases, officials said.
Authorities in Florida apprehended Genter without incident in May, and he was extradited to Gwinnett. It's believed he'd been living in Florida for the last decade, working with a vending company in the Miami area. His girlfriend of 11 years knew nothing of his lingering criminal allegations, and she knew him only as "Jimmy McCall," officials told the Daily Post last month.
The statute of limitations on Genter's case would have been four years, but that doesn't apply because he absconded, Mayfield said.
Mayfield said he's aiming to take the case to trial in September, with about a dozen witnesses testifying for the state. Despite the time lapse, "We've been able to locate all the essential officers and codefendants that we expect to testify," he said.