By B. Gallatin
Published: October 20, 2007
A customer entered Dave’s guitar shop. The customer was dressed in a thigh length brown suede leather jacket with six-inch long fringe sleeves from shoulder to cuffs. He had long blond hair and a neatly trimmed Van Dyke beard. Dave thought,
‘doesn’t this person know the sixty’s are over’.
Dave wanted to tell the guy he looked like Buffalo Springfield recaptured.’
After some small talk, Dave invited him back behind the counter and led him into the shop to show him around. Dave was proud of his little shop he thought by showing the guy how neat and orderly things were he would perhaps become a loyal customer. It had worked in the past.
In an instant the man flashed a badge and yelled,
“Lowden County police, while Dave stared at the shiny gold badge the officer quickly pulled and cocked his pistol and put barrel on his nose.
This officer’s face now beet red, veins popping out on his forehead, now screaming even louder was shaking and motioning,
“Put your hands UP! ---UP! ---Don’t move a muscle-- don't even breathe hard MOTHERFUCKER! ---- I'll blow your god damn head off.”
Five other people appeared and rushed in the front door. One of them handcuffed Dave while Buffalo Bill the lead officer showed Dave the search warrant. It read an unknown white male at 4487 Popular St., believed to have a control substance, namely cocaine, in violation of state law 44-11-18 and federal law 251-119. Dave thought,
‘What the fuck is happening? They don’t have a reason for this I don’t have any coke---oh shit---then he remembered---oh shit---oh, shit--- there’s a quarter pound of pot in the desk drawer.’
Dave could do nothing but watch out of the corner of his eye while the other officers were rifling through drawers, pulling them out and dumping them on the floor, raking cabinets bare, knocking everything off to the floor.
A woman officer wearing her blues strolled in with a medium size black bag. She took some things out of the bag and started gathering up all of the glass-framed pictures hanging on the walls of the showroom. She stacked them on the sales counter. In hand a squirt bottle and the other some sort of special lamp. She was sprit-zing each glass front followed by waving the light over the surface then placed each face down and moved to another. She glanced up to see Dave looking at her; she smiled and said,
“If there is any cocaine here; if there has ever been any here I will find it.”
To Dave it seemed surreal at the time. She looked as thought she was a happy host cleaning pictures up for a party. There were more than fifty autographed pictures of famous customers from the music business. Dave noticed she would linger on her favorites.
Dave was only able to listen to the others as he was facing the showroom; while the others not in his line of vision were laughing and joking. Only interrupted by Buffalo Bill saying repeatedly,
“Where’s the shit, man? ---Somebody saw it here today---we know it’s here---where’s the shit? ---you know we’re gonna find it---why don’t you tell me where it is and save us all a lot of grief?”
Dave with the initial shock wearing off was getting angry because they were throwing stuff and breaking things, his things, for no good reason. All laughing like it was funny. Dave, finally disgusted,
“Come on now, that’s not necessary.”
Buffalo Bill spun Dave around and shoved him backwards into the wall putting a forearm into his throat and got nose to nose and said,
“Oh yea, son of a bitch; it’s necessary. Now, you better just shut the fuck up and only talk when I tell you to you---you got that you piece of shit?---you got that?----fucking answer me motherfucker, shoving his arm harder into Dave’s throat---I’m talking to you.”
Dave nodded yes. Someone yelled out,
“Bingo, do I get the prize?”
They found the pot.
They shoved Dave and his employee into the back seat of the funky brown, Pimpmobile looking Cadillac Buffalo Bill arrived in, no rights read to either one. Upon arriving at the jail, Dave and his employee were separated. In the jail, they were finger printed and photographed. The officer’s began questioning them in different rooms. They wanted Dave to tell them what he did with the cocaine. Dave answered,
“I don't mess with cocaine because to me pot is on the level with parking tickets and cocaine is like the death penalty.”
They insisted that a reliable witness told them there was cocaine on the premises earlier that day. Buffalo Bill and another officer took him to a room and said take a look and gestured toward a mirror on the wall, then turned the light out in the room and the mirror turned into a window. Dave could see his employee talking with two other officers but he couldn't hear what they were saying. They turned the light back on and gestured,
“Your partner there is telling us every thing so you had better tell us every thing about your operation and don’t lie.”
“Jimbo is an honest guy and whatever he’s saying is the truth.”
Both officers appeared stunned one saying,
“You know we can make it easier on you if you tell the truth, he turned to Buffalo Bill and said, isn’t that right?” He nodded yes. Buffalo then said,
“Sit down you want a smoke? How about something to drink? You like coffee? You know I can put in a good word with the judge if you tell me who sold you that pot.”
Dave spoke up and said,
“You can’t do anything but arrest me and gather evidence. What you think or say doesn’t make a bit of difference to the judge.”
Buffalo stared at Dave and said,
“Are you a lawyer?”
“But I’d like a lawyer.”
After that, they relented on their interrogation. After being fingerprinted and two photos taken Dave was allowed to use the phone and called his wife. Then they took him and put him in a cell. His wife came and bonded him out of jail. She was mortified. Dave told her not to worry that he knew the law and it was his first offense.
“I’ll get off without jail time on the first offenders act.” Dave told his wife.
The next day to make sure he was correct about the law he retained an attorney. He tells him the story. The lawyer wanted to know why he had four ounces of pot and did he have any scales or baggies. Dave asked,
“Why do you want to know all of that?”
The lawyer said,
“They might want to try you on Intent to distribute.”
“I had four ounces because of the economics. A quarter pound costs $150.00 and individual ounces are $45.00. I had no scales or baggies.”
The attorney says,
“We can beat this with no problem you won’t go to jail I can assure you. I want a $1,000.00 up front to take the case. Do you have a $1,000.00?”
Dave said, “Sure.” Dave wrote a check.
A few weeks later, Dave and his attorney are in preliminary court. When Buffalo Bill showed the evidence receipt and pictures of the torn up shop to the judge and said,
“I found a half pound of pot.”
Dave hearing this nudged his attorney and said,
“I didn't have a half pound of pot and you should object or something.”
“Shut up and sit tight; do not make a scene it will only make the judge angry.”
“But I didn’t have that much pot” Dave pleaded.
“Shut up and let me handle this. This is a preliminary hearing, not a trial.” said the attorney.
In those few weeks, the four ounces of pot had turned into eight ounces of pot while sitting in the evidence room. After hearing, testimony and looking at the evidence the judge looked at the attorney and said,
“It is therefore the disposition of this court that the case of Lowden County verses the
defendant, one Dave Wilson, for possession of a control substance, namely marijuana.
In the quantity of eight ounces be bound over to the grand jury.”
The gavel resounded.
After this preliminary court session ended, while walking to the parking lot, Dave mentioned again about not having that much pot saying,
“Look, I know how much I bought and had in my possession.”
The attorney interrupted saying,
“You expect me to believe the officers lied about the evidence?”
“Yes, don’t you think I know how much pot I paid for? It was four ounces; not eight ounces”
The attorney shook his head looked at Dave patronizingly and said,
“This is all so crazy; I have never been in trouble in my life.’’
About then, Dave remembered they had not read him his rights. When Dave told the lawyer he laughed and said,
“You've been watching too much television and if we tried to present that argument in court we would have ten officers in court that weren't even there that day. Giving sworn testament they heard your rights being read.”
“How about the warrant looking for cocaine and they only found pot?”
The lawyer said,
“There is a new Supreme Court Decision stating that, if in the execution of a search warrant with good probable cause and the police find apples while searching for oranges that the arrest will stand.”
Then his attorney dropped another bomb,
“I’m guessing the reason the amount of pot supposedly grew, if what you say is true was to keep some judge from looking bad for signing an arrest warrant without probable cause. Apparently they relied on poor information from an unreliable informant. Now what you say you had in your possession Dave is not a felonious act. However when they added four more ounces to what you did have in your possession then everything becomes more serious. It is a felony to possess a half pound. If I can get another $1000.00 from you…Dave interrupted,
“Another thousand dollars? I don’t have it right now.”
“You can have it by the time we go to trial; can’t you?”
“Yes, that is doable.”
The attorney went on,
“You just go home relax and don’t worry I will have them eating their words in court. I’ll file a motion for suppressed evidence. The court will have to produce the, so called, reliable witness. If they refuse the court will dismiss charges. Either way I will find out how they convinced a judge to issue a search warrant for cocaine. I will cross examine their witness and ask the hard questions that will reveal the motive for this person telling them you were a cocaine dealer. It’s probably some scumbag trying to save himself or herself by giving them a name of a dealer or it could be someone with a personal vendetta or one of your business competitors trying to cause you trouble.”
Dave felt much better knowing that he would at least find out who did this horrible thing to him. It would be several months before the trial.
The time had come; the trial would start at 9:00 AM sharp; Dave is there at 8:05 AM. He finds the courtroom two floors up. He is pacing up and down in the lobby where the elevators are. He is nauseous, worried sick by 8:45. At exactly 8:55 AM he looks at the clock above the elevators, one door opens and his attorney steps out. Dave feels a slight relief.
His attorney greats him hurriedly with,
“We've had a change of plans and we're not going to file the motion for suppressed evidence; do you have the money with you?”
“Yes, I have the money but why aren't we filing the motion, I want to face my accuser.”
“We're pleading Nolo Contender and I have made the best deal possible for you with the judge and the prosecuting District Attorney in Judges Chambers earlier this morning. I was to get you a $600.00 fine payable over 6 months and 10 years probation, but you will only have to report for 3 years, and occasionally piss in a bottle.”
“So you want the whole $1000.00 dollars and you are not filing the motion for suppressed evidence?”
By now, the bailiff of the court is chanting some rehearsed speech,
“Hear this; all those that have business in and for the county of Lowden Criminal Court I'm going to shut this courtroom door and no one will be allowed to enter or exit while court is in session.”
Dave’s attorney says with anger in his face, slamming his briefcase shut and turning away posturing to leave,
“You want to go in there, pointing toward the court room, with out benefit of council, go the fuck ahead; be my guest. I don’t have time for this. I worked hard to get you this deal and you would be advised to take it.”
He walked to the elevator, pushed the down button and Dave tugged his arm stopping him and handed him the money. The attorney called out to the bailiff by name,
“Robert, please hold the door.”
Dave sat through some other cases until it was his turn. His attorney did the talking. It went down just as he had probably rehearsed it in judge’s chambers.
When the Judge read Dave the sentence the attorney had promised, she added,
“Mr. Wilson if you get picked up with so much as a pot seed within the ten year probation period you will serve the remainder of your probation time in jail. Choose the places you go and your friends wisely; do not frequent places where drugs are present; do you understand Mr. Wilson?”
“Yes, I understand your honor.”
What Dave also understood was that he could have easily gone to jail for nearly nothing and what should have been a misdemeanor turned into a serious crime. The officers cheated on the amount of pot found to cover some judge’s ass for signing a bad search warrant. The lawyer scared him into an additional thousand dollar payment for literally doing nothing on his behalf. Dave was facing an extreme lifestyle change for the next ten years. This ordeal was conclusive proof to him that law enforcement and lawyers are at best a corrupt bunch; no better than anyone else in the populous.