Pot growing case tossed Appeals Court: Police manufactured evidence

Two years ago, drug task force agents went out of the way to peek inside windows at an Elmore residence looking for evidence of a marijuana grow, according to court documents.
Jessica Cuffman
Oct 2, 2013
Now, a felony marijuana case built on their entry that followed will be thrown out, Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan said.

Ottawa County Drug Task Force agents charged Scott Stacey, 43, with cultivation of marijuana and other charges after kicking in his back door and searching his home, discovering 119 plants, weapons and a full grow operation in his basement.

In October 2011, Agent Don St. Clair and Detective Doug St. Clair went to Stacey’s home to attempt a “knock and talk” after receiving a tip he was selling pounds of marijuana, according to a police report.

When they arrived, Stacey’s sister, Kalyn Stacey, 26, ran from the front of the house to the back, and deputies followed her through two gates and onto a back porch where she went inside.

The detectives smelled raw marijuana and saw several plants through a basement window, then called prosecutors about obtaining a warrant to search the home.

But while they were calling, they checked back through the window and saw the plants missing.

Fearful evidence was being destroyed, they kicked in the door, yelled for people to come out of the basement and detained the Staceys when they came upstairs.

Scott Stacey’s hands and face were covered with potting soil, according to the police report.

After doing a protective sweep of the basement and seeing the grow operation, detectives obtained the warrant to search and seized the plants and weapons.

After Stacey was indicted, his attorneys attempted to suppress the evidence from the house, arguing detectives weren’t permitted to go to the back door because it was part of his property that was protected from illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

At first, the courts ruled in favor of the state, after hearing testimony from the detectives that they saw the marijuana from the back porch after looking through the window.

But the court revisited the case after an expert decoded video surveillance recorded on Stacey’s own system that showed a different set of circumstances — ones that directly contradicted what detectives told the court.

“The court accepted the officers’ testimony that once on the porch they smelled the raw marijuana,” the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals noted in an opinion issued Friday. “The court noted, however, that the video showed that after that, one of the officers stepped off the deck and kneeled on the ground to look in a basement window.”

Officers also used a flashlight to look inside and moved a trash can to get a better view — outside the purview of what would have been legal search and seizure, according to court documents.

The set of facts the detectives used to justify kicking in the door without a warrant were manufactured, and therefore, unlawful, according to the appeals court ruling, which upheld the Ottawa County Common Pleas ruling to throw out the evidence obtained during the search that followed.

“We cannot go forward with the criminal case,” Mulligan said Monday. It’s likely the court will dismiss the case of its own accord, he said.

Kayln Stacey, however, pleaded guilty to possession of drugs and obstructing official business in June 2012, and she was placed on two years diversion.

If she serves the time successfully, her guilty plea will be withdrawn and her record wiped clean.

Law enforcement officers called the grow operation one of the most sophisticated setups they’d ever seen at the time of the arrests.

Comments

huronguy

My oh my Lying cops? does this really happen? so what punishment did these cops get for lying? they said one thing happened but video evidence proved them wrong! any reprimands? days off without pay? days off with pay? (what a joke right)
I see these two "cops" have the same last name, are they relatives? if so they shouldn't work together, everyone knows cops have no problem lying for other cops do you really think being relatives is going to make them more honest?

2Timothy1-7

They are brothers and sons of former Oak Harbor police chief Larry St Clair. The rotten apples didn't fall far from the tree. Former chief St Clair was very active in preventing exposure of crimes in in Oak Harbor and the Oak Harbor School district.

deertracker

Looks like the cops got BUSTED lying!

Centauri

"The set of facts the detectives used to justify kicking in the door without a warrant were manufactured, and therefore, unlawful, according to the appeals court ruling, which upheld the Ottawa County Common Pleas ruling to throw out the evidence obtained during the search that followed."

http://michiganmedicalmarijuana....

http://reason.com/archives/2008/...

Centauri

How about criminal charges for the cops?

Unassumer

Glad this happened. The drug task force in Ottawa County thinks everyone is on drugs or selling them and go out of their way to get people to inform on each other or otherwise get more arrests. Yet, they let some people off scot free that should be in jail. Pretty ridiculous and the war on drugs is NOT working.

Stop It

YES! Bust the cops for falsifying evidence.

Ned Mandingo

Oh my god these criminals were selling marijuana! A drug that kill thousands of innocent people when a intoxicated driver crashes into them. Oh wait that's alachol.
It's a highly addictive plant that kills hundreds of thousands of people with cancer and heart disease. No that's tobacco.
I got it, it kills thousands of people who overdose on it after it ruins their life with addiction. Nope that's pain pills.
Maybe it's a harmless plant that is not physically addictive and has no lethal dose. It also has many positive medical uses that improve people's health with using harmful drugs with side affects.
It's a good thing these storm troopers violated this mans constutional rights before he distributed this harmless plant that could have helped someone's health and make a lot of people smile.
What a joke'!!!!!

SamAdams

A-freaking-men, Ned!!!

pigeon farmer

Sherlock it!

JudgeMeNot

Bad cop no donuts.

Ned Mandingo

Looks like members of the st. Clair family have no integrity. I wonder how many peoples lives have been affected by their lies. I think a full investigation of their past needs to be done to find other cases they lied about. Put these st. Clair criminals behind bars so the rest of us are safe from illegal police actions.

Didn't do it

A cop lied wow,I thought they were upstanding people yah rite?

sorryhog

Guilty until proved innocent?

man4451

HOW many people YOU think is still in prison because of Law enforement like these people?

2Timothy1-7

At least one...I believe these 2 officers were involved in the raid on Elsebeth Baumgartner's home. That search warrant was based on false statements by a confidential informant and the legitimacy of the warrant was never proven at a hearing or reviewed by the Court of Appeals.

These two officers were also the subject of complaint by EB that they were protecting drug activity by their associates including a certain local government attorney long alleged to engage in drug abuse.

SamAdams

When the police request a warrant, they have to swear that what they're telling the judge is the truth. When what they swear isn't true, isn't that, in and of itself, perjury? And I'll bet those cops testified in court to match their lies, too! Perjury AGAIN! So, Mr. Mulligan, where's the request for an indictment NOW, eh?

2Timothy1-7

You are correct, lying to obtain a search warrant is perjury a felony of the third degree. So too is lying under oath at trial.

Any citizen has the right to swear out a complaint against these two with the Ottawa County Municipal Court or request Prosecutor Mulligan indict them pursuant to RC 2935.09 and RC 2935.10.

To make it interesting, investors in Island Express (Kevin Baxter's defunct company) had Elsebeth Baumgartner, a private citizen, charged with the misdemeanor crime of falsification for allegedly making false statements about the company and Kevin Baxter at a Port Clinton City Council meeting. These statements included that Kevin Baxter was allegedly involved with illegal drug activity.

Mr. Mulligan allowed them to charge her without proof she was lying. (Thanks to the Sandusky Register's win in the libel case with Baxter, we know BCI had proof she was telling the truth about his drug activity at the time) But in this case Mr. Mulligan has proof (findings from two courts of law) that these two officers including one who works directly for him, did lie under oath.

Does anyone believe Mr. Mulligan will allow anyone to charge them?

Ned Mandingo

how do we get these lying criminals charged for the crimes they committed?

Ned Mandingo

whats worse ? growing harmless plants that help people or lying in official court records to try to put someone else in prison. they should be held responsible for the crimes they committed that affect other peoples lives.

hilltop

Remember the first three rules about dealing with law enfarcement - 1 - shut up, 2 - shut up, 3 - shut up.

No warrant, no signed complaint, no need for them to be on private property.

. . . . and you're right huronguy, manufactured evidence, lying and cover-ups by law enforcement - not in Ohio . . . .

Licorice Schtick

The Staceys are not victims here. These cases are thrown out to protect the innocent, and they aren't.

2Timothy1-7

We disagree. Not only are the Staceys victims, but also all citizens of Ohio. Law Enforcement officers who intentionally lie under oath are serious threats to our constitutional republic and therefore threats to all.

It is impossible to overstate the danger to society posed by dishonest law enforcement officers who will lie to convict someone and deprive them of their liberty and property. What if next time the lie concerns you, a friend or family member just because they have an axe to grind?

In my opinion these men violated federal criminal law by manufacturing evidence and lying under oath while acting in official capacity as law enforcement officers. Like former PPD chief McClung they should be prosecuted by federal authorities.

SamAdams

You have it 180 degrees wrong. These cases aren't thrown out to protect the innocent. They're thrown out when those seeking the guilty are guilty themselves.

If you submit that only the innocent are protected under the Constitution, then how do you determine who's guilty and who's innocent? Random searches of everyone, but just prosecute the lawbreakers? And if that's okay with you, how does the Fourth or Fifth Amendment apply to ANYbody anymore?

Nemesis

Almost right - they are thrown out to protect ALL OF US from the abuse of government power.

Centauri

Police manufactured evidence!! They lied!!

http://www.co.ottawa.oh.us/ocpro...
"In addition, the Prosecutor oversees the Ottawa County Drug Task Force, an agency that consists of three full time police officers, as well as assistance from police departments throughout the county."

Mulligan gave a former Ottawa County (OHIO) sheriff a free pass for using public money as his own.

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"Former Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton misused about $10,000 in taxpayer money, purchasing items like shoes, neckties, belts, cigars, Cedar Point passes and prescription medications, a state audit found.

Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan said Bratton will not be charged criminally because there were no clear guidelines governing purchases made with funds from the sheriff's furtherance of justice account."

http://www.toledoblade.com/local...
"In no way do cigars and Cedar Point passes further the cause of justice," Mr. Yost said in a release. "While I'm glad the citizens of Ottawa County have been repaid, a man of the law should know better than to use a public credit card for a shopping spree."

"This shopping list is just incredible," Mr. Yost said. "The taxpayers' belts are already tight. They shouldn't have to pay for his belt too."

Mulligan needs a little common sense. Public funds are NOT to be converted to personal use. Why no theft in office charges?

Centauri

"But the court revisited the case after an expert decoded video surveillance recorded on Stacey’s own system that showed a different set of circumstances — ones that directly CONTRADICTED what detectives TOLD the court.

“The court accepted the officers’ testimony that once on the porch they smelled the raw marijuana,” the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals noted in an opinion issued Friday. “The court noted, however, that the video showed that after that, one of the officers stepped off the deck and kneeled on the ground to look in a basement window.”

Officers also used a flashlight to look inside and moved a trash can to get a better view — outside the purview of what would have been legal search and seizure, according to court documents.

The set of facts the detectives used to justify kicking in the door without a warrant were MANUFACTURED, and therefore, UNLAWFUL, according to the appeals court ruling, which upheld the Ottawa County Common Pleas ruling to throw out the evidence obtained during the search that followed."

The cops lied in court. Where are the perjury charges?
Telling lies in court are criminal and they should be prosecuted under the laws of corrupt Ohio and more.

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2921.11
2921.11 Perjury
(F) Whoever violates this section is guilty of perjury, a felony of the third degree.

Is Mulligan going to give these two corrupt cops a free pass?

Here is an idea. How about Mulligan and his three full-time drug agents all submit to drug tests? If they refuse, then consider the refusal as "criminal indicators" which would indicate they are drug users and have drugs in their vehicles and homes. Why would they refuse drug tests if they have nothing to hide?

It is hard to comprehend that dinky little Ottawa County, Ohio has three full-time drug agents on the payroll.

Who was the attorney or attorneys who represented the Staceys?

Centauri

“knock and talk”

Do your research on this "knock and talk” tactic that is another step to a total police state and attacks your rights.

http://articles.orlandosentinel....
"The near-fatal confrontation April 15 happened during a "knock-and-talk," a common law-enforcement practice in which officers show up on a resident's doorstep — usually based on some kind of tip — and try to convince residents to let them in without a search warrant."

"Though knock-and-talks happen daily across Central Florida, civil libertarians and some lawyers criticize the use of these controversial doorstep encounters — especially if they occur after dark."

"More people might decline these searches if cops had to inform them of the right to refuse, said Florida State University College of Law Associate Dean Wayne Logan. "Unlike Miranda, police don't have to advise homeowners of their Fourth Amendment rights," he said."

http://www.snitching.org/terrorism/
"TruthOut on the use of informants against political activists"

"Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations."

Centauri

You ever heard of "suicide by cop" but how about "murder by cop" and in corrupt Ohio, it is all legal. Do you want to silence somebody for trying to expose corruption? Throw them into prison through the corrupt courts of Ohio. The powers that be don't care about your rights or the Constitution.

If you want to murder somebody, it can be done by "murder by cop" and nobody will be charged. The news media will hold back on the facts and tell you a fairy tale. If you know of somebody who is afraid of thugs and keeps a gun handy, you can have him murdered by the police.

Call the police and tell them that there is some wacko with a gun. Do this at night so the victim cannot see who is approaching him. Prior to this, go and harass the victim so that the victim will be high strung and very nervous and very afraid. If the victim is on his front porch, the police will sneak up on him and shine the light in his face. As the victim is trying to get into his house, the police shoot him to death with lots of bullets. No murder charges filed. Only in corrupt Ohio can one get away with murder and blame the victim.

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