'Soap opera' drug defendant gets probation

Correction appended

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County judge Thursday ordered probation for a Crystal Lake man who previously admitted to possessing small amounts of morphine in a case so full of scandalous testimony that one attorney called it a “soap opera.”

Christopher L. Branham, 44, previously pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance after a two-day bench trial in July before Judge Sharon Prather.

Branham’s fiancee, Charity Meyers, in March 2011 alerted authorities that Branham had drugs at their Crystal Lake home. Soon after, Meyers started a sexual relationship with McHenry County sheriff’s deputy Jason Novak, who was the lead detective in the drug case against Branham. Meyers testified at the trial that she had sex with Novak just hours after Branham’s arrest.

Branham and Meyers are still engaged and living together.

“I don’t think Chris denies his relationship with Charity Meyers is toxic,” Branham’s defense attorney, Dan Hofmann, said. Hofmann argued that probation was appropriate because Branham had “accepted all the criminal responsibility [he] needed to.”

On April 28, 2011, members of the Narcotics Task Force, including Novak, went to the home that Meyers and Branham share, where they found multiple prescription drugs that were packaged as if for sale.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kate Lenhard said Meyers became the “fall guy” for Branham’s crimes and sought to have Branham sentenced to four years in prison. Instead, he was given two years of probation.

Prosecutors said Meyers would have said anything on the stand to repair her relationship with Branham.

“She was trying to keep her man,” Lenhard said.

And for Branham’s part, she said, “all he’s done is blame someone else for the actions he committed.”

Branham also was found guilty of possessing a firearm as a felon. He was convicted about 18 years ago with drug trafficking in Kentucky.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included inaccurate information about Branham's previous conviction.

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