Police seek Elders' son after her drug remarks

December 19, 1993|By New York Times News Service

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The son of Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders, who suggested two weeks ago that the government study the possibility of legalizing drugs to reduce crime, is being sought by the police here on a drug charge.

The police issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Kevin Maurice Elders, 28, on a charge of possession of cocaine. Police said yesterday that they had not arrested Mr. Elders because they could not find him but that an arrest was expected soon.

In a telephone interview Friday from his home, Mr. Elders denied the charge and suggested that it was a politically motivated response to Dr. Elders' remarks that the crime rate could be reduced if drugs were legalized.

After the White House moved swiftly to distance itself from her remarks, Dr. Elders said her comments had been personal observations that did not reflect the views of the administration.

In the interview, Mr. Elders said: "We're trying to run this down and see where this came from. It possibly could be retaliation for her comments." Mr. Elders said he learned of the pending arrest Friday night from his mother, who called him from Washington.

"She just called and told me about it," Mr. Elders said. "We were trying to discuss how and why. She was surprised, but she was concerned."

Asked whether the charges were true, Mr. Elders said, "No," then added: "She asked me the same thing. She said, 'Kevin, have you or are you?' "

Lt. Charles Holladay of the Little Rock Police Department said yesterday that the warrant was based on solid information from the police narcotics division. "Once the arrest is made and more information can be released, it will be clear this case is in no way politically motivated," Lieutenant Holladay said. "No way is this case politically motivated."

Dr. Elders, a former Arkansas health commissioner, released a two-sentence statement Friday night. "We've told our son we stand by him as family," she said.

"In the meantime, he has asked us to refer all questions to his attorney."

Kevin Elders' lawyer, Perlesta A. Hollingsworth of Little Rock, did not return a telephone call seeking comment yesterday.

Lieutenant Holladay said the arrest warrant was not issued in connection with allegations by neighbors that a Little Rock rental house owned by Dr. Elders' husband, Oliver, was a hangout for gang members selling drugs.

A government group sought to have the house's occupants evicted this month after the neighbors' allegations. A local real estate company manages the house.

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