FBI arrests former Bergmann manager, accuses him of dealing meth

The FBI has arrested a former Bergmann Hotel manager and resident for four counts of felony drug distribution.

According to a federal grand jury indictment issued Tuesday and unsealed Thursday, Charles E. Cotten Jr. distributed methamphetamine four times between May 12 and June 7 this year. The FBI served a search warrant at the Baranof Hotel on Friday morning in conjunction with the Juneau Police Department’s SWAT team and arrested Cotten.

A second search warrant was also served at Cotten’s boat, the 34-foot Northwind, which is moored in one of Juneau’s harbors. The indictment earmarks that boat and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for seizure.

A second man, Ricky Stapler Lisk, was named one count of the indictment, but according to court records, he is not in custody.

An attorney has not been named for either man.

In December, the Empire interviewed Cotten about his work attempting to rehabilitate the aging Bergmann Hotel, which had become housing of last resort for many Juneauites. Cotten was described as a “gritty ex-con and recovering addict” who had been hired about August 2016 to turn the hotel around.

In March, that effort failed when the City and Borough of Juneau condemned the building for violations of the city’s fire code and building code.

Cotten was led away in handcuffs by JPD and pled no contest to an infraction called “unlawful continuance of a fire hazard.” He was fined $300, according to Alaska court records.

Sometime after paying that fine on March 30, Cotten began dealing methamphetamine, the federal government alleges. A grand jury was convened to hear the accusations and indicted Cotten and Lisk on Tuesday. Indictments are merely accusations of illegal activity, not evidence or proof.

About 8:15 a.m. Friday, JPD cordoned off Franklin Street in front of the Baranof Hotel as the FBI served a search warrant.

“Yes, the SWAT team was downtown at the Baranof Hotel basically executing a search warrant,” said JPD Lt. David Campbell. “Nobody was injured. The operation went off successfully.”

When the Empire contacted hotel general manager Steve Hamilton two hours later and asked him about the FBI and JPD operation, he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

JPD Sgt. Sterling Salisbury, head of the patrol team on duty Friday morning, said FBI agents were working out of JPD’s offices Friday and had arrested one person. He said he could not release the identity of the arrested man and told the Empire to contact the FBI.

Electronic court records subsequently identified the man as Cotten, and FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier confirmed his identity.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

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