Fresno, CA – For some cops, it’s not enough to just ruin lives by enforcing the war on drugs. Some feel compelled to go even further by taking the loot and selling it for their own personal gain. That’s what former sheriff’s deputies Logan August and Derrick Penney did – and they got busted.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California, August and Penney conspired with a former detective to steal several pounds of cannabis from storage and sell it through a confidential informant.
“According to court documents, between June 2014 and October 2014, while sworn peace officers working with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), August and Penney abused their positions of trust and authority by conspiring with former Bakersfield Police Department detective Patrick Mara and an individual who previously worked as a confidential informant for August, and others, to steal marijuana from a KCSO storage unit and sell it for unlawful personal gain. The marijuana had previously been seized during investigations into marijuana grown on public and private lands. Once August and Penney obtained the marijuana from the storage unit, they had it processed (trimmed) into approximately eight pounds of usable marijuana. August then delivered it to his former confidential informant, who sold it and provided August with part of the proceeds from those sales. August then shared the proceeds with Penney and Mara. August and Penney received approximately $1,200 each from the sale of this marijuana.”
August and Penney pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, and face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
August has a history of using the power of the state to oppress others and profit from it. According to the document, he routinely participated in “marijuana eradication operations,” only to turn around and sell the stolen plants for hefty sums.
“On 10 separate occasions between March 2014 and December 2014, August wrongfully took marijuana from a law enforcement eradication operation for personal gain. August distributed to his former confidential informant the equivalent of 25 pounds of usable marijuana wrongfully taken from these law enforcement eradication operations. August received $15,000 from the sale of this marijuana.”
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All of this underscores yet another way that the police state and the war on drugs serve only to degrade society and create crime where none should exist. Growing and selling a medicinal plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years is not the problem. Government’s prohibition of cannabis – borne of racism and the stifling of dissent – is the problem.
While thousands of people are locked in cages every year for possessing a beneficial plant, the enforcers of prohibition – “just doing their job” – benefit both legally and illegally from this war on people. The aforementioned deputies are among the rare few that actually get caught.
While their actions are certainly troubling, it pales in comparison to the legal way that law enforcement ruins lives and profits from it. Civil asset forfeiture (CAF), or policing for profit, has become standard operating procedure at federal, state and local levels of government.
Under CAF, law enforcement can seize cash and assets from people on the spot, even if they are never charged with a crime. All cops have to do is say they suspect the cash or assets are involved in criminal activity. If an innocent person wants their stuff back, they have to go through expensive legal procedures to get it back. Most never even try.
Countless examples exist of innocent people being robbed blind by agents of the state, such as Joseph Rivers, who lost his life savings to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as he was traveling to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music.
Thankfully, awareness is growing and people are standing up to the state, and CAF is on the ropes. Several states have already abolished or limited the practice, requiring a criminal conviction before cash and assets can be seized. Several more are following suit, and there is a growing movement at the federal level to end this massive system of legal theft.