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Couple upset over pot raid

kansas cia employees hydroponics under surveillance federal lawsuit

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#1 Hum

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 00:52

LEAWOOD, KS (AP) — Two former CIA employees whose Kansas home was fruitlessly searched for marijuana during a two-state drug sweep claim they were illegally targeted, possibly because they had bought indoor growing supplies to raise vegetables.

Adlynn and Robert Harte sued this week to get more information about why sheriff's deputies searched their home in the upscale Kansas City suburb of Leawood last April 20 as part of Operation Constant Gardener — a sweep conducted by agencies in Kansas and Missouri that netted marijuana plants, processed marijuana, guns, growing paraphernalia and cash from several other locations.

April 20 long has been used by marijuana enthusiasts to celebrate the illegal drug and more recently by law enforcement for raids and crackdowns. But the Hartes' attorney, Cheryl Pilate, said she suspects the couple's 1,825-square-foot split level was targeted because they had bought hydroponic equipment to grow a small number of tomatoes and squash plants in their basement.

"With little or no other evidence of any illegal activity, law enforcement officers make the assumption that shoppers at the store are potential marijuana growers, even though the stores are most commonly frequented by backyard gardeners who grow organically or start seedlings indoors," the couple's lawsuit says.

The couple filed the suit this week under the Kansas Open Records Act after Johnson County and Leawood denied their initial records requests, with Leawood saying it had no relevant records. The Hartes say the public has an interest in knowing whether the sheriff's department's participation in the raids was "based on a well-founded belief of marijuana use and cultivation at the targeted addresses, or whether the raids primarily served a publicity purpose."

"If this can happen to us and we are educated and have reasonable resources, how does somebody who maybe hasn't led a perfect life supposed to be free in this country?" Adlynn Harte said in an interview Friday.

The suit filed in Johnson County District Court said the couple and their two children — a 7-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son — were "shocked and frightened" when deputies armed with assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests pounded on the door of their home around 7:30 a.m. last April 20.

During the sweep, the court filing said, the Hartes were told they had been under surveillance for months, but the couple "know of no basis for conducting such surveillance nor do they believe such surveillance would have produced any facts supporting the issuance of a search warrant."

Harte said he built the hydroponic garden with his son a couple of years ago. He said they didn't use the powerful light bulbs that are sometimes used to grow marijuana and that the family's electricity usage didn't change dramatically. Changes in utility usage can sometimes lead authorities to such operations.

When law enforcement arrived, the family had just six plants — three tomato plants, one melon plant and two butternut squash plants — growing in the basement, Harte said.

The suit also said deputies "made rude comments" and implied their son was using marijuana. A drug-sniffing dog was brought in to help, but deputies ultimately left after providing a receipt stating, "No items taken."

Pilate said no one in the Harte family uses illegal drugs and no charges were filed. The lawsuit noted Adlynn Harte, who works for a financial planning firm, and Robert Harte, who cares for the couple's children, each were required to pass rigorous background checks for their previous jobs working for the CIA in Washington, D.C. Pilate said she couldn't provide any other details about their CIA employment.

Pilate said any details gleaned from the open records suit could be used in a future federal civil rights lawsuit.

"You can't go into people's homes and conduct searches without probable cause," Pilate said.

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#2 articuno1au

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 00:54

Imagine how upset they'd be if they had actually had pot >.>

#3 zhangm

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 00:58

Imagine how upset they'd be if they had actually had pot >.>

That's not the point.

#4 articuno1au

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:02

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#5 OP Hum

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:08

Imagine how upset they'd be if they had actually had pot >.>


I'm surprised they didn't plant some evidence.

#6 Growled

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:11

I guess forgot that everyone is guilty now until proven innocent.

#7 articuno1au

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:11

I'm not surprised they made snarky unfounded remarks..

Either way, I don't think the search was completely baseless. Possession of tools for a purpose gives probable cause for a search.

They've also got legal recourse here obviously >.< Let a judge decide :)

#8 Growled

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:13

Besides, why would you raid ex-CIA? That makes no sense.

#9 OP Hum

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:15

^ You drinking tonight ?

I guess forgot that everyone is guilty now until proven innocent.



#10 articuno1au

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:16

CIA never do anything wrong :o

Waterboarding is a wonderfully relaxing treatment :D

#11 Growled

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 02:03

^ You drinking tonight ?


I forgot one stinking word. Hick! :D

#12 linsook

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 02:12

I'm not surprised they made snarky unfounded remarks..

Either way, I don't think the search was completely baseless. Possession of tools for a purpose gives probable cause for a search.

They've also got legal recourse here obviously >.< Let a judge decide :)


LOL, wha? I didn't know buying hydroponic equipment was a suspicious act.

#13 articuno1au

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 02:30

Depends on the context. Like I said, a judge can decide if the police overstepped their mark.

I think you'll find very few people (per capita) use hydroponics to grow material for personal consumption, and a fair percentage of these people are using it for illicit purposes.

Statistics might suggest it's a suspicious act?

#14 ShareShiz

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 02:53

Anyone fine it funny they were raided on April 20th (4:20) :laugh:



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