Police officer accused of taking seized marijuana
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- A Winter Haven police officer is accused of pilfering a "marijuana bud" following the department's seizure of marijuana plants from a home.
Authorities say 36-year-old Ricardo Flores was just ending his shift about 7 p.m. Wednesday as detectives were unloading marijuana plants from a truck. As the evidence was being processed, an officer saw Flores take a marijuana bud from a plant and conceal it.
When the officer reported what he saw, Flores was called back to the department. Officers recovered the stolen marijuana and Flores was charged with burglary of a conveyance, petit theft and possession of marijuana.
Flores was suspended pending an internal investigation.
Winter Haven Police Chief Gary Hester commended the officer who reported the incident, saying "no one is above the law."
Phoenix Woman Arrested In Border Pot Bust
A Phoenix woman was taken into custody after border officers found 560 pounds of marijuana hidden in a vehicle she was driving. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, officers selected the woman's 2003 Ford Expedition for screening at the Douglas Port of Entry Monday morning where they found a double floor had been built into the entire floor area of the Expedition.
There they found the marijuana with an estimated street value of $256,000. The 31 year old woman, identified as a U.S. citizen, was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation and prosecution. The vehicle and marijuana were seized by CBP officers.
Chandler Set To Begin Hearings On Medical Pot
Chandler begins hearings this week on the rules surrounding the dispensing of medical marijuana. Public hearings on possible amendments will he held by the planning and zoning commission Wednesday and the City Council on Feb. 10. Arizona voters approved Proposition 203 last November which allows the sale of medical marijuana.
The East Valley Tribune reports an initial draft of amendments calls for Chandler facilities to be at least 1,300 feet from a school, church, daycare center, hospital, park or library. Dispensaries would be located in retail areas and cultivation sites in industrial areas. There will be a limit of 120 dispensaries statewide. It is unclear how many will be located in Chandler.
Cannabis Grower Avoids Jail Sentence
A Southampton man was spared an immediate prison sentence after a judge heard he had health problems and would lose his accommodation that had taken him four years to get. Police had gone to the home of David Thomas, 45, on an unrelated matter when they discovered a tray of small cannabis plants in a cupboard and another 17 more mature plants in another room.
Mary Aspinall Miles the prosecution at Southampton Crown Court, said if the latter had been harvested, they would have been has a street value of approximately £1,700. Thomas, of Queenstown Road, Freemantle, admitted producing cannabis and allowing premises to be used for its production. Judge Jane Miller QC, who gave him a four-month suspended sentence, described his health problems as unenviable. She added that the risk of reconviction was low and there had been a reduction in his offending.
Drugs Raid Uncovers £1M Cannabis Haul
Police have seized a number of cannabis plants with an estimated street value of more than £1million after executing a search warrant for a house at Thornwood near Epping. Upon executing the search warrant police found a variety of plants at different stages of growth when they went to an address in Woodside at roughly 1PM on Friday the 14th January. Police had seized up to 3,000 marijuana plants at the time of the search.
On discovering the plants officers said that the growers had developed a “sophisticated hydroponics setup” to harvest drugs. A 26 year old man from Epping was arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and a 41 year old man from Waltham Abbey was arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and abstracting electricity. They were both bailed to return to Harlow police station on 1 April.
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.
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