Deputies Destroy House, Lives To Recover $50 Of Marijuana And A Single, Unbottled Pill

from the great-work-boys.-everyone-take-the-day-off. dept

Another life — two of them actually — has been destroyed by a law enforcement smash-and-grab operation. Acting on information residing solely in the nostrils of a single law enforcement officer, Alabama deputies destroyed a house and took possession of everything of value in it. C.J. Ciaramella has more details at Reason.

On January 31, 2018, a Randolph County sheriff’s deputy showed up at the home of Greg and Teresa Almond in Woodland, Alabama, to serve Greg court papers in a civil matter.

Greg, 50, wasn’t home, but his wife Teresa told the deputy he would be back before long. About two hours later, after Greg had returned home, he heard loud knocking on the door. He remembers shouting “hang on” and walking toward the door when it suddenly flew open. The next thing he knew he was on the floor—ears ringing, dazed, wondering if he’d just been shot.

Several deputies from the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department had kicked in his front door and thrown a flashbang grenade at his feet. The officers handcuffed and detained the couple at gunpoint, then started searching their house. The deputy from earlier had reportedly smelled marijuana, and so a county drug task force was descending on the Almonds’ home, looking for illegal drugs.

The total haul in contraband from the drug raid was less than $50-worth of marijuana. In addition, an officer claimed he found a loose pill containing a controlled substance. It was a pill with a controlled substance, but it was a stretch to call it “loose.” Here’s the details on that part from the Almond’s lawsuit [PDF]:

Inside the Almond residence were two safes that housed an extensive collection of over 80 guns, some of which are antiques; approximately $8,000.00 cash; jewelry; and other personal items, including prescription medications. The Almonds were directed to open the safes. Inside the safes, the members of the drug task force claim to have found ONE LUNESTA PILL outside of the bottle in which it had been prescribed. Lunesta is a non-narcotic class IV controlled substance prescribed to aid sleep.

Using that one pill, the department charged the couple with felony drug possession, on top of the misdemeanor marijuana charge. These charges were taken to a grand jury which proceeded to do what grand juries do best: return indictments.

These drug charges — for one pill outside of a bottle and $50 of marijuana apparently actually possessed by their adult son — were the first criminal charges Greg or Theresa had ever faced, coming 30 years of marriage and a few grandchildren after anyone would have expected. The charges have been reduced to misdemeanors but this raid and arrest isn’t the end of the story.

Everything that was in the safes disappeared into the Department’s hands. So did a bunch of other stuff around the house, along with the cash Greg Almond had in his wallet. The warrant inventory contains far less then the Almonds claim the deputies took. The full list includes the firearms from the safes, $8,000 in cash, wedding rings, medications, antique guitars, a coin collection… pretty much anything the officers felt might have resale value.

As a result of this unexpected loss and the public accusations of drug dealing, the Almonds lost their business, their house, and any hope of earning a living going forward. All that’s left is the lawsuit. It’s loaded with Constitutional violations and other harms inflicted on the innocent couple by the Sheriff’s Department, but it’s a long shot considering the wealth of defenses available to government employees. As for the property taken, that’s an even longer shot, considering how quickly agencies liquidate property and how low the burden of proof needed to keep this property is in forfeiture cases.

It’s unlikely anything the government offers — if it’s held culpable for any of this — will undo the damage it did in this raid that uncovered a small amount of marijuana and a single pill. The raid that treated a couple in their 50s like youthful cartel members destroyed a house and two lives — and all of it came as the result of a single deputy claiming he smelled marijuana when he tried to serve civil papers earlier in the day. It only took two hours for the Sheriff’s Department to mobilize a small army armed with guns and explosives to extinguish the threat of a burning plant, based on a tip no one could ever possibly corroborate.

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Comments on “Deputies Destroy House, Lives To Recover $50 Of Marijuana And A Single, Unbottled Pill”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

No really, the drug users are the crooks...

Let’s see, $50 worth of a plant that is legal in several state, plus a single pill from a legal prescription, versus theft of thousands worth of money and property, the loss of a business, house and livelihood…

Oh yeah, the thugs in blue are really protecting and serving the public there, engaging in behavior that would make the mafia look downright tame and sane in comparison. Actions like this just further the idea I’ve had kicking around for a number of years that the police are the worst gang operating in the US, because at least when someone without a badge robs you they don’t get to hide behind laws that have been perverted to protect them at all costs, upheld by gutless and/or corrupt judges and prosecutors, with at least a slight chance that they’ll be punished and the victim will get something more than a legal bill from the proceedings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No really, the drug users are the crooks...

Well at least if you pay the mafia they tend to leave you alone and might even protect you against others. Apparently, paying the heroes in blue – seeing as how your taxes pay their wages – only makes them more aggressive. What a brave new world indeed…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No really, the drug users are the crooks...

Every hear of the game of punch buddy. You punch him;he punches you.

This is small backwoods small town Alabama. The only thing outsiders, including those on other parts of Alabama can be sure of is something happened. Don’t know what but one can be assured that what one heard is NOT what happened.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Wouldn't it be loverly

If the Almonds had inventories, pictures, registration numbers of all the things taken by these thieves with badges, then their lawsuit could demand the return of the actual original property along with a few million dollars for the loss of income, past, present, and future, and a few million more for the pain, suffering and embarrassment caused by these out of control agents of the law, and win. The sad part is that it will be the tax payers that bear the brunt of a lawsuit win, rather than the officers and departments they represent.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

‘It might be different than what the source article says but I don’t know, however since accepting it as accurate would make the police look bad I’m just going to assume that it’s completely wrong and the victims were actually hardened criminals’ is not ‘skepticism’, if anything that’s a display of heavy bias in a willingness to ignore anything that might challenge it on nothing more than the fact that accepting it would challenge that bias.

(Hell, I flagged it as Funny myself given it reeks of poe)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Hell, the ADHD meds I take are schedule II, and pills of mine often end up loose all over my place, because guess what? I HAVE ADHD.

The mother of the bride at the wedding I was at lately spilled her pills all over the floor while getting ready to head out. Did she pick them all up? Who knows?

Trumping up a bullshit felony charge over the same shit is absolutely inexcusable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Or, it might all be bullshit

Having seen the police in action many times. Lying, making Up laws that don’t exist, etc,..I’m almost more likely to believe criminals these days over the police, which is the largest GANG in the U.S. They have their own FLAG that has a BLue line in it to separate them from US.

testcore (profile) says:

Stop with the passive voice

Tim, you’re a writer with some seriously interesting viewpoints that are worth reading; why do you hide those behind the passive voice?

The passive voice is fucking hard to read.

Just… please stop using it. Learn what the active voice is and use it. In the meantime, I’m going to have to skip your pieces because, well, your writing sucks. It’s not worth wading through your word soup to find the point.

dickeyrat says:

And while this is going down, a white 26 year old school bus driver (and probably a future Republican elected official) in New York state got away with raping a 14 year old girl by way of probation. That’s all he was sentenced to since, according to the "judge", he only raped one victim. Yes, the "judge" actually said that! This is MAGA. This is how we make America "great again". This is life in der Neue Amerikan Diktatorship. Your orders are: GET USED TO IT!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, it’s by kicking the idiots out of power and start making it a virtue to elect competent people, rather than just picking a team that you”ll worship no matter what. Yet, here you are playing the silly team game and cheering on as the country burns down around you, just because the guy doing it is wearing your team colours.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes, that happened. It turns out that in the state of New York, third degree rape (which some other jurisdictions call statutory rape) is a Class E Felony. In the absence of prior felony convictions, a Class E Felony has a maximum sentence of 4 years probation. So yes, the Judge sentenced them to probation because, in the absence of prior convictions, or multiple concurrent felony convictions AKA "raping more than one victim," that is the only punishment allowed by law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Almost time to riot

Wow, I had a dream about a Muslim that ran in the streets waving a gun. I was hanging out like I usually do late in the afternoon on my rooftop with my custom deer-targeting telescoping sights with 3D imaging and feedback. Have you seen those? They are so cool. They see the target, they measure the distance, they estimate speed and predict future position, and then sensitize the trigger so you fire at the EXACT MOMENT you need to turn their head into pink powered fairy dust.

In my dream, anyway. And there was that Muslim, waving a gun shouting about cops, and then BAM! Pink fairy dust all over the sidewalk.

Maybe I was dreaming about this guy that posted above. Could be if he’s Muslim with a beard, dirty clothes and a rag around his head. If he looks like that well then WOW, that’s Amazing!

What do you say, on Random Anonymous Coward poster? Are you a Muslim with a dirty rag on your head?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Almost time to riot

"Nope. About as white as it gets."

Erm, not to be that guy – but being Muslim doesn’t really imply that you’re not white, although they would certainly be counted as a minority in that religion (as would a white Buddhist, Hindu, etc.)…

"the lack of police doesn’t imply that people will start arbitrarily shooting other people either."

The use of the term "legal gun owner" implies that he’s a resident of that gun fetishist fantasy world where people with guns will immediately become superheroes the moment something bad happens without the cops being able to stop it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Almost time to riot

"The use of the term "legal gun owner" implies that he’s a resident of that gun fetishist fantasy world where people with guns will immediately become superheroes the moment something bad happens without the cops being able to stop it."

I find this a little disturbing. I get the pro gun peeps can be a bit crazy, but don’t you think your swinging the pendulum a little to far the other direction to be credible? Don’t be as extreme as those which you oppose, instead, perhaps try to be the voice of reason?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Almost time to riot

Not really. I’m familiar with the rhetoric, and the fantasy of crime being prevented by some civilian hero who happened to be packing in a crowded area, yet no collateral damage being caused is common one among those people.

Calling them out on how that’s silly is not particularly extreme, especially since they’ll trot out their fantasy every time someone gets killed in a situation where nobody was armed.

ArtW (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Almost time to riot

The fantasies are entirely yours snowflake.
You have a big mouth on facts….
So why don’t you use them to base your own opinions?
Look up the FBI and free states like Texas crime statistics. Every one credits thousands of cases annually where the presence or potential presence of a gun was the primary cause of failure of a criminal act.
Or try the Stanford surveys of prison inmates who unanimously stated that their choice of victims was heavily influenced by their even suspecting that they might be carrying a gun.
I myself have shot two criminals in the act of armed robbery ending their lives and their crime sprees.

No doubt you live in NY or LA etc where your perceptions are severely limited by your lack of exposure to reality. The media filters your information in order to bend your opinion.
Facts are facts and they don’t support your opinion of guns or gun owners…..

Valkor says:

Re: Almost time to riot

At a point in the future when we no longer have recourse.
We have knowledge, power, and the vote.

We still could actually go to our city council meetings, or our county boards of supervisors. We could educate our neighbors by actually connecting with people near us. I’m not going to be able to change anything in Alabama. I wasn’t going to city council meetings when the police department bought some kind of APC, still painted desert tan. I can work to change that. Here’s the problem. It’s a big pain in the ass.

If you have enough people to riot and shoot and accomplish something, you have enough people to sit in meetings and convince leaders and solve problems like civilized people.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Almost time to riot

Yep. That people don’t want to go to all the effort of campaigning and rallying support, etc., is the problem. This passivity has been known for some time as "Campaign fatigue" but I prefer to call it by its true name: "Abdication of social responsibilities."

When we care, we’ll get on the phone, write emails, and get our friends to join in. We don’t. If we do, we don’t care enough or aren’t willing to try to get friends on board again, but as I’ve been saying for years, pressure works. SOPA proves this. Make those critters fear for their jobs!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"For example, say out load that you LOVE our President, His Majesty Donald J. Trump, POTUS, the Magnificient.

THen listen to the responses."

You get mocked for loving a conman as king, meaning that you reject the principal of democracy that the country was founded upon? Or just for being a childish fool more interested in making up silly nicknames than he is in looking at the real world?

Anonymous Coward says:

They’re currently living in a utility shed now:

The Almonds now live in a utility shed. According to Alabama Appleseed: Greg insulated the shed, but the Almonds have no running water or indoor plumbing. They cook over an open fire outside their front door and keep food cool in a portable cooler. A small solar panel provides enough electricity to power their television and a floor lamp at night, but they do not have enough power to run an air conditioner. For Christmas, Greg’s boss gave them a wood-burning stove to supplement the propane heater they had been using. Some mornings, Greg wakes up to indoor temperatures in the low 50s.

I’m sure that’ll teach ’em.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

For the record, I take 50mg of Metopolol Succinate daily. I believe it’s the same schedule drug as Lunestra (S4 non-narcotic).

While moving my household I discovered a pill that had fallen behind my bedside table one morning when I dropped the bottle.

According to this, I should be arrested, tried and convicted with possession of a controlled substance, sent to prison — along with my daughter who lives with me; all our belongings confiscated; the house destroyed, the land salted and mined.

My wife lives out of state, but we’re still married (not even legally separated, just estranged) and both of us live in community property states. So she should also be arrested and convicted, her belongings possessed. Also the entire farm along with the other family living there because, you know, guilt by association.

Since I lived in a duplex they’d certainly have to arrest my neighbor and subject her to the same treatment. They were gonna burn the house down anyway.

How about the new owner? Sure, why not. He’s got money!

I could go on but I think I’ve pushed this far enough already.

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