A former Fredericksburg police dispatcher accused of feeding information to suspected criminals was released from jail Wednesday on a $20,000 bond.

Karen Lakisha Stephenson, 40, of Fredericksburg faces two felony drug charges and two counts of obstructing justice. She was dismissed from her job with the city police department after her arrest earlier this month.

Stephenson was granted a $10,000 bond last week by a judge in Fredericksburg General District Court. But she was not released after prosecutor Kevin Gross appealed the ruling to circuit court.

On Wednesday, Stephenson was again granted a bond, though it was for twice the amount granted in the lower court. Defense attorney Ben Burchett successfully argued that Stephenson’s lack of a criminal record and 23 years in law enforcement entitled her to a bond.

Gross argued against Stephenson’s release from the Rappahannock Regional Jail, saying that she was a danger to the community and had put lives at risk with her actions.

According to affidavits for search warrants filed in Fredericksburg Circuit Court, a confidential informant recently told Virginia State Police that Stephenson was providing information to suspects about ongoing police investigations. The information included the location of drug operations, police documents and records, pictures of individuals assisting the police and descriptions of undercover narcotics detectives.

On July 30 and 31, court records state, city and state police set up a surveillance operation in the Mayfield subdivision while Stephenson was on duty in the police communications room. Police wrote that information provided to Stephenson as part of her job was sent to the confidential informant via text messages and phone calls from her personal cellphone.

Police later used the informant to set up a controlled purchase of medication on Aug. 2. According to court records, Stephenson left the police department and got money from an ATM before picking up the informant at the informant’s home. They then drove to another residence, where the informant used the money gotten from Stephenson to illegally purchase the medication, the records state.

After Stephenson dropped off the informant, detectives followed her and made a traffic stop. They then recovered the medication.

Her home in the 2200 block of Cowan Boulevard was searched later that day and among the items recovered was a cellphone. The search warrant gave police permission to download data from the phone as part of the ongoing investigation.

A preliminary hearing for Stephenson is scheduled for Oct. 29 in general district court. She worked for city police for just over a year.

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Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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