Kansas couple: Indoor gardening prompted pot raid

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Mar 30, 2013.


  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    • 71f5c980be50910a2d0f6a7067005100.
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      Associated Press/Orlin Wagner - BOB Harte stands next to his now shut down indoor garden in the basement of his home in Leawood, Kan., Friday, March 29, 2013. Harte and his wife Adlynn, who are former CIA employees, …more

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    LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — Two former CIA employees whose Kansashome was fruitlessly searched for marijuana during a two-state drug sweep claim they were illegally targeted, possibly because they had bought indoor growing supplies to raise vegetables.
    Adlynn and Robert Harte sued this week to get more information about why sheriff's deputies searched their home in the upscale Kansas City suburb of Leawood last April 20 as part of Operation Constant Gardener — a sweep conducted by agencies in Kansas and Missouri that netted marijuana plants, processed marijuana, guns, growing paraphernalia and cash from several other locations.
    April 20 long has been used by marijuana enthusiasts to celebrate the illegal drug and more recently by law enforcement for raids and crackdowns. But the Hartes' attorney, Cheryl Pilate, said she suspects the couple's 1,825-square-foot split level was targeted because they had bought hydroponic equipment to grow a small number of tomatoes and squash plants in their basement.
    "With little or no other evidence of any illegal activity, law enforcement officers make the assumption that shoppers at the store are potential marijuana growers, even though the stores are most commonly frequented by backyard gardeners who grow organically or start seedlings indoors," the couple's lawsuit says.
    The couple filed the suit this week under the Kansas Open Records Act after Johnson County and Leawood denied their initial records requests, with Leawood saying it had no relevant records. TheHartes say the public has an interest in knowing whether the sheriff's department's participation in the raids was "based on a well-founded belief of marijuana use and cultivation at the targeted addresses, or whether the raids primarily served a publicity purpose."
    "If this can happen to us and we are educated and have reasonable resources, how does somebody who maybe hasn't led a perfect life supposed to be free in this country?" Adlynn Harte said in an interview Friday.
    The suit filed in Johnson County District Court said the couple and their two children — a 7-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son — were "shocked and frightened" when deputies armed with assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests pounded on the door of their home around 7:30 a.m. last April 20.
    "It was just like on the cops TV shows," Robert Harte told The Associated Press. "It was like 'Zero Dark Thirty' ready to storm the compound."
    During the sweep, the court filing said, the Hartes were told they had been under surveillance for months, but the couple "know of no basis for conducting such surveillance nor do they believe such surveillance would have produced any facts supporting the issuance of a search warrant."
    Harte said he built the hydroponic garden with his son a couple of years ago. He said they didn't use the powerful light bulbs that are sometimes used to grow marijuana and that the family's electricity usage didn't change dramatically. Changes in utility usage can sometimes lead authorities to such operations.
    When law enforcement arrived, the family had just six plants — three tomato plants, one melon plant and two butternut squash plants — growing in the basement, Harte said.
    The suit also said deputies "made rude comments" and implied their son was using marijuana. A drug-sniffing dog was brought in to help, but deputies ultimately left after providing a receipt stating, "No items taken."
    Pilate said no one in the Harte family uses illegal drugs and no charges were filed. The lawsuit noted Adlynn Harte, who works for a financial planning firm, and Robert Harte, who cares for the couple's children, each were required to pass rigorous background checks for their previous jobs working for the CIA in Washington, D.C. Pilate said she couldn't provide any other details about their CIA employment.
    Pilate said any details gleaned from the open records suit could be used in a future federal civil rights lawsuit.
    "You can't go into people's homes and conduct searches without probable cause," Pilate said.
    Leawood City Administrator Scott Lambers said Friday that he couldn't comment on pending litigation. The sheriff's office also had no comment.
    "Obviously with an ongoing lawsuit we are not able to talk about any details of it until it's been played out in court," said Johnson County Deputy Tom Erickson.

     
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    This could be any survivalists trying to grow food.
     
  3. Donldson

    Donldson Monkey+

    I could be completely wrong here, but wouldn't it be the judge who issued the search warrant who should be questioned? Isn't he supposed to review the evidence and decide whether there is valid reason to storm somebody's house?
     
    VHestin, Beano and kellory like this.
  4. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder Site Supporter+

    Stories like this are why we get our hydroponic equipment when we go to Dallas. Cash and carry. I don't trust the weed nazis to not come gunning for my Thai sweet basil.
     
    VisuTrac likes this.
  5. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

    Once again they are playing fast and loose with the constitution and I think it will happen more and more frequently as the strength of the constitution is undermined but....we probably won't be reading about it in the news.
     
    Brokor and Beano like this.
  6. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    Yes...if you assume the agent applying for the warrant was truthful...which is probably true (in my experience) in about 25% of cases.

    A judge does not review the actual evidence...as a matter of fact, with regard to such things as surveillance observations, most agencies are careful not to create reviewable documents such as logs so that the agent's allegations are all there is. In this case, while it is fairly obvious that either the surveillance was not really carried out or the results were greatly misstated, there will be no way for the subject to disprove the allegations on the application for the warrant. While there is (after the raid) insufficient "evidence" to charge the Hartes with manufacture, there is also insufficient evidence for the Hartes to prove (since the burden of proof shifts to them) that the raid was spurious...I can see the agency pointing out that, although there was no grow in evidence, it is possible that the Hartes received information on the coming raid and disguised it as a vegetable garden.

    This may come as a shock, but police and federal agents lie on warrant requests.
     
    tulianr, Yard Dart and Moatengator like this.
  7. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    I read some of this story to my mother and she LAUGHED when I mentioned the couple were former CIA employees. You'd think the cops would have known that if they did any checking at all. But as mentioned, all involved with these raids apparently were a bit 'trigger happy' when it comes to getting a successful 'raid'.
     
  8. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    My mother wants to add that it was her understanding that when applying for a warrant, the LEO requesting it was 'under oath', meaning it would be perjury for them to lie.
     
  9. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Yes, well we all know tomato plants are a gateway to more nefarious ones. If the pigs were really smart, they should have sworn it was "only a matter of time" until the family was growing Marijuana and cocaine. Clearly they are on a Collision Course with complete drug distribution --filthy home gardening hippies. :lol:
     
  10. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Ya know, one of these days, one of these raid teams with a falsified warrant is going to come across a militant gardener that has had enough. And, there will be violence.

    I think that day is fast approaching.

    Maybe I'm just an [AH] but I'd think it funny if there were a bunch of storm troopers providing iron to a soil enrichment program.
     
  11. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    And the next time I see one of them tried, much less convicted, will be the first...
     
  12. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Tomato plants from a certain distance can resemble pot plants if you're not discerning enough. And dried catnip also looks like dried pot. How I know these things is purely circumstantial mind you :p
     
    Brokor likes this.
  13. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    With all the tacticool gear and uniforms they have to show it off somewhere. Give the guys a break--they like to gather around the bar and laugh too. Just hope they don't have to wear black arm bands when they hit the wrong place sometime. It will happen.
     
  14. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

    This is a little unnerving, I have a pretty big grow light setup in my basement to get all my seedlings started for the garden. My reaction probably wouldn't be very good if they came blowing through the doors over watermelon, bell peppers, tomatoes, and squash. The only positive is after the dust settles, they would be paying off my mortgage, buying momma a new car, and funding preps like solar panels. Wife has 4 lawyers on her side of the family.
     
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