Judge gives former Ill. sheriff life in prison
BENTON, Ill. -- A federal judge called a disgraced Illinois sheriff "the worst of humanity" Wednesday and sentenced him to life in prison for trafficking marijuana on the job and a foiled plot to have potential witnesses killed.
U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert sided with prosecutors in deciding that Raymond Martin should be harshly punished, admonishing the longtime sheriff of southern Illinois' Gallatin County as "nothing but a common thief and thug who disregarded the very laws that you swore to uphold, defend, protect and honor."
"You could have likely been sheriff until you decided to retire. But no, you couldn't stand prosperity, and your arrogance, greed and power got the best of you," Gilbert told Martin, who was booted out of office within days of his conviction last September of all 15 felony counts. "I believe in your mind your only regret is that you got caught. "You represent the worst of humanity."
Gilbert appeared irked by the lack of visible contrition by Martin, who moments before being handed two life terms on weapons charges - and numerous 10- and five-year terms on the other counts - pledged to appeal, claiming more documents and witnesses presented on his behalf at trial could have acquitted him.
"Your Honor, I come before you today not claiming to be no angel but can assure you I'm not the man prosecutors are trying to portray me as," the Martin, 48, told Gilbert, denying he ever schemed to have anyone killed.
Gilbert found Martin incredulous.
"In all my years as a judge, I have never seen a criminal case where the evidence of guilt was so overwhelming," said the judge, who also fined Martin $50,000 and swatted down the man's request to be allowed free while he appealed.
Martin, a Democrat who had been re-elected four times, has been jailed since May 2009, when federal agents hauled him off from his office in Shawneetown on marijuana-dealing charges. Despite that and his subsequent behind-bars plotting to kill witnesses, Martin clung to his job and still got his $40,000-a-year salary until the county fired him after his conviction, ending his nearly 20-year run as sheriff.
Though Martin had the legal right to keep his job pending trial, federal prosecutor Jim Cutchin argued Wednesday that Martin's stepping down would have been the morally right thing to do. While jailed, county records show, Martin collected $68,087 in salary and benefits from the cash-strapped, drug-plagued county, along with a roughly $4,200 state stipend.
Martin's attorney, John O'Gara, asked Gilbert for a 30-year term, calling that "sufficient but not greater than necessary to punish him."
"You do not need to sign a piece of paper to consign him to death in the Bureau of Prisons," O'Gara pressed, insisting Martin "has a great capacity for caring" and should be spared a life term.
Martin's attorney and prosecutors agreed that he would forfeit to the U.S. government his home and more than $75,000 in other assets. When arrested, investigators said, Martin had nearly $105,000 in cash in his basement safe and $19,000 in his then-wife's workplace safe.
A Drug Enforcement Administration agent has alleged that Martin supplied a drug dealer, then threatened to kill him when the man said he wanted out, saying making him disappear would be easy. The then-sheriff also pressured the dealer by saying he could make up a crime against him and pledged to use his power to shut down rival dealers, prosecutors said.
Investigators said the dealer let authorities record his conversations with Martin over several weeks because he was scared of the lawman's threats.
Authorities alleged that even after Martin was jailed on drug counts, he masterminded a scheme to have two potential witnesses assaulted and possibly killed. None of those witnesses ultimately was harmed.
Authorities said Martin enlisted his then-wife, Kristina Martin, 37, and 21-year-old son Cody Martin in the plot in which two cellmates were offered as much as $17,000 to kill the witnesses - even supplying them with a detailed map to the targets' homes. Raymond and Kristina Martin since have divorced.
"Words cannot adequately describe how despicable it was for what you did to your son, Cody," Gilbert told Martin. "Animals protect their young more than you did yours."
Witnesses testified that the alleged plot unraveled when one of the two would-be hit men got cold feet and reported the plan to authorities.
The sheriff's wife and son pleaded not guilty to Jackson County murder-solicitation charges. Kristina Martin's trial is scheduled to begin Monday; no trial date has been set for Cody Martin.
Husband 'Used Cannabis' Before Crash
A Canberra court hearing into a fatal car accident has been told the driver had a very high level of cannabis in his blood at the time of crash. Troy Anthony Wilson had been at a family barbecue at the Cotter picnic area south of Canberra in September 2009, before driving home in his four-wheel drive. He lost control of the car at a bend in Paddy's River Road and rolled down an embankment. His wife, Lisa Jane Wilson, died from severe head injuries but the six children in the car were mostly unharmed.
Wilson has been charged with negligent driving occasioning death. Yesterday in the ACT Magistrates Court, Wilson gave evidence that he had swerved to avoid a kangaroo. But a police witness told the court that was speculative. He believed the crash happened because Wilson entered the bend too fast, well above the advised speed of 45 kilometres per hour. A forensic expert gave evidence, saying Wilson's blood sample taken two hours after the crash showed a blood alcohol reading of 0.02 and an extremely high level of cannabis. He said the combination would definitely have impaired his driving. Wilson denied using the drug that day.
Melanie Soliz Gave Marijuana Pipe To Her Baby To Suck On, SoCal Police Say
A Video showing a baby putting its mouth to a pot pipe put SoCal authorities on alert, and when they visited the Hesperia home of mom Melanie Soliz over the weekend, they say they found enough evidence to prove that the imagery wasn't lying.
The 20-year-old was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty. Her self-described fiance, Blake Hightower, 24, later turned himself in and faced the same allegation.
Wait Six Hours After Smoking Marijuana To Drive
Patients who use marijuana for medical purposes must wait six hours after smoking the drug to drive a car, the Health Ministry is set to announce soon.Up to now, the issue of driving and medical marijuana use had not been clarified formally, and this lacunae caused several police-related incidents, including the investigation in November 2010 of scriptwriter Ran Sarig, who uses marijuana for medical purposes, after he was seen on a television program driving with a marijuana cigarette in his mouth.
The new regulation will completely prohibit drivers of public or commercial vehicles from smoking the drug for medicinal purposes. In recent months, the use of medical marijuana has risen in Israel, according to Health Ministry figures. Up to now, some 4,000 permits have been given for marijuana use for medical purposes. The mini1stry believes that after final regulations are ironed out for the use of medicinal marijuana, some 40,000 patients in Israel will use the narcotic. Authorization for marijuana use covers the holding of 200 grams of the drug at any one time. The drug is grown and supplied for medical purposes by an authorized list of persons.
Owner Says Cannabis Seeds 'Souvenirs'
The owner of the Nirvana chain of head shops, Jim Bellamy, has denied plant cultivation kits being sold in his outlets and on his websites are encouraging people to grow cannabis plants. Mr Bellamy told The Irish Times the equipment his shops sells are sold for “horticultural purposes”. “We don’t selling anything to people so that they can grow cannabis,” he said. While his shops were also selling cannabis seeds, he said the seeds were not banned here and were only sold by his outlets as “souvenirs”. “We have always sold them as souvenirs, it’s something that we’ve done as a tradition really.” Since the enactment of the Psychoactive Substances Act last year, he had reduced his number of shops from eight to three. “There were about 100 (head) shops at one time and we were the wholesaler to almost all of them, but most have gone now. It’s not very profitable and we might close down.” Asked if Nirvana had been more aggressive in selling the plant cultivation kits since the psychoactive products head shops once specialised in were banned, Mr Bellamy said: “I don’t know really, I haven’t been well so I haven’t been around much. It is all we really have left to sell.”
One staff member at one of Mr Bellamy’s shops in Dublin said the grow kits on sale were for growing plants and were not sold for the purposes of growing cannabis. “We are just like any other gardening shop,” he said. Nirvana shops and the company’s Nirvanagrow website offers plant cultivation starter kits for between €385 and €895. These kits consisted of a “homebox” and high wattage lights. The homebox is effectively a small tent-like structure with white lining inside. The white lining reflects the bright lights inside the structure onto the plants growing inside and helps to maintain a very high level of heat emitted from the lights. A basic watering system is also included to keep the plants hydrated while growing in such a bright and warm environment.
Nirvanagrow also offers the homeboxes, lighting and other items for sale as individual items. For advanced growers, Nirvanagrow also offers for sale ventilation systems to remove excess heat and odour from environments where large numbers of plants are growing. Timers and pumps are also on sale and these are generally used to keep large numbers of plants watered using irrigation systems run automatically to avoid the need to manually water large numbers of plants. Mylar, reflective tin-foil style sheeting, is also on sale. This can be used to line the walls of rooms in which quantities of hundreds of plants could be grown as opposed to growing a small number in homeboxes. Hand-held meters, some costing over €200, are also offered for sale to allow growers test for the optimum heat and moisture in the growing environment and to ensure the pH balance is correct in soil where plants are growing.
Officer accused of smuggling sub sandwich with pot into Marion jail
Joseph Jones, 31, a master corrections officer at the Marion County jail, is accused of bringing a sub sandwich with marijuana inside to the jail for an inmate who, Jones says, promised to give him a bottle of Patron tequila and a free roast beef sandwich, reports theOcala Star-Banner.
It gets even better: If the officer could get a cell phone into the lockup, the inmate offered to introduce him to a stripper, Jones told the investigators.
The inmate, Travis Cottrell, 28, explained the scheme to officials. Two women would go to a sandwich shop not far from the jail and order two sandwiches. They would then remove the meat and other contents from one sub and place the marijuana inside the bread and hand it off to Jones, according to the Star Banner.
But drug agents got wind of the plan and kept an eye on the sandwich shop. When Jones showed up they alerted deputies at the jail, who escorted him inside, according to the Star Banner.
Deputies found 8 grams of marijuana inside a sandwich he was trying to bring to inmate Travis Cottrell.
Jones was charged with principal to introducing contraband into a detention facility, introduction of contraband into a detention facility, and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, according to the Star-Banner.
In the end the officer and two jail inmates along with their girlfriends were arrested.
Now theyre all prisoners of love.
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