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Chronicle AM: Manhattan DA to Quit Trying Small Pot Cases, Keeven Robinson Protests, More... (5/16/18)

Marijuana policy continues to roil New York, a US territory is on the verge of legalizing it, marchers protesting the killing of Keeven Robinson by Louisiana narcs demand justice, and more.

That's 55% supporting marijuana legalization -- in Georgia. (11 Alive screen grab)
Marijuana Policy

Georgia Poll Has Solid Majority for Marijuana Legalization. A new Survey USA/11 Alive News poll has a solid majority for legalization. The poll found 55% in favor, with 35% opposed and 10% undecided. The level of support for legalization is up seven points over the last time the question was polled two years ago.

New York Legal Marijuana Could Generate $3 Billion in Revenues, Report Finds. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released an analysis Tuesday estimating that the adult legal market for marijuana in the state could be roughly $3.1 billion. Sales at that level would net as much as $436 million in tax revenues annually, including up to $335 million for New York City alone.

Manhattan DA Announces Plan to End Small-Time Marijuana Prosecutions. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said Tuesday that his office would stop prosecuting people for smoking or possessing marijuana as of August 1. There would be an exception for cases where there is a clear public safety concern. Vance said the move was part of a broader effort to end the city's wide racial disparity in marijuana arrests and prosecutions.

Northern Marianas Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. A bill that would legalize marijuana and allow for legal, regulated, and taxed marijuana commerce passed the Senate of the Pacific US territory on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the House. If approved there, it would then go to the desk of Gov. Ralph Torres (R).

Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Bill Would Expand Medical Marijuana System. Responding to Gov. Phil Murphy's (D) call to reform the state's medical marijuana program, a trio of state senators has filed a bill that would allow more dispensaries and grows to open, as well as permitting more medical professionals to recommend the drug to their patients. The bill, Senate Bill 10, is not yet available on the legislative web site.

Law Enforcement

Louisiana's Jefferson Parish NAACP Calls for Arrest of White Narcs Who Choked Black Drug Suspect to Death. As hundreds of protestors marched Monday night through East Jefferson to demand justice in the death of Keeven Robinson, 22, local NAACP head Gaylor Spiller called for the four white undercover officers involved to arrested on murder charges -- and not be placed on paid vacation while awaiting resolution of their cases. Four Jefferson Parish narcs chased Robinson through back yards and over fences before subduing him and leaving him dead. The parish coroner reported Monday that Robinson's death was a homicide caused by compression of his neck during his arrest. He was unarmed.

International

British Nurses Call for Legalizing Medical Marijuana. Members of the Royal College of Nursing have voted overwhelmingly in favor of lobbying the government to legalize medical marijuana. The nurses argued that if drugs such as morphine and fentanyl are legal, medical marijuana should be, too.

Four White Louisiana Narcs Choked This Young Black Man to Death in a Low-Level Drug Bust

New Orleans resident Keeven Robinson, 22, died after being arrested by Jefferson Parish narcotics officers last week. Police originally tried to blame his death on asthma, but now the Jefferson Parish coroner is telling a very different tale.

Keeven Robinson (Demone Robinson)
At a press conference Monday, Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich laid out what initial autopsy results uncovered: "Our initial autopsy findings reveal significant traumatic injuries to the neck, the soft tissue of the neck," he said. "These findings are consistent with compressional asphyxia. We are confident that at the end of our process, this is going to be the cause of death. Regarding manner of death, at this point, manner of death is homicide."

Cvitanovich was quick to point out that when he said "homicide," he did not mean in the legal sense, but in the sense that Robinson died as a result of the actions of others.

According to the sheriff's office, four undercover narcotics deputies, who Sheriff Joe Lopinto did not name but identified as white, were surveilling Robinson, a black man, as part of a drug dealing investigation and followed him to a gas station on Jefferson Highway late last Thursday morning.

When Robinson noticed the agents, who wore badges, approaching him, he attempted to drive off, but jumped from his car about a block away after running into two sheriff's vehicles. The narcs pursued Robinson in a foot chase as he leaped over fences before catching him in the back yard of a residence.

Again, according to the sheriff's office, the deputies then struggled with Robinson, who was carrying what they suspected to be heroin, before they managed to handcuff him. At that point, he stopped breathing. He was rushed to Oshsner Medical Center nearby, but died there.

Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies do not wear body cams.

Robinson was not armed, though Sheriff Lopinto said a gun was found in his car.

Lopinto originally said investigators were looking into whether Robinson's history of asthma contributed to his death, but his family immediately expressed skepticism about that possibility. They said they feared the narcs had either beaten or strangled him to death.

And the coroner's report is proving them correct. Jefferson Parish NAACP President Gaylor Spiller said she was pleased the coroner's office issued a ruling on Robinson's death so quickly and that "there was no cover up."

But Spiller was speaking prematurely. The investigation into the killing of Keeven Robinson is just getting started, and the inevitable finding that no one is criminally responsible is still months away. Call me cynical , or call me a student of what happens when police kill people.

In this case, an unarmed black drug suspect was choked to death by four white narcs. Who wants to bet on any of them being charged with a crime?

Chronicle AM: NYC Marijuana Arrest Disparities Continue, Drug Protests Shake Tbilisi, More ... (5/14/18)

New York City has yet to escape from racially disproportionate marijuana arrests, the Mormon Church picks a fight with medical marijuana, nursing homes can't discriminate against people taking addiction medications, protests rock the capital of Georgia after a massive weekend drug bust, and more.

NYPD seems to think marijuana users only come in the colors black and brown. (IRIN)
Marijuana Policy

Oklahoma Legalization Initiative Campaign Getting Underway. A Tulsa-based group calling itself Green the Vote is now collecting signatures for a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. Campaigners will need nearly 124,000 valid voter signatures by September 8 to qualify for the November ballot. A medical marijuana initiative is already set to go before the voters next month.

New York City Pot Bust Racial Disparities Aren't Going Away. A major investigation by the New York Times has found continued racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and arrests in every neighborhood in the City. "Across the city, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years. Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. In Manhattan, the gap is even starker: Black people there were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people."

Medical Marijuana

Mormon Church Ups the Ante in Fight Against Utah Medical Marijuana Initiative. The church last Friday doubled down on its opposition to the medical marijuana initiative set for the November ballot. The church released a seven-page memorandum raising dozens of complaints it says "raises grave concerns about this initiative and the serious adverse consequences that could follow if it were adopted."

Drug Treatment

Justice Department: Nursing Facilities Can't Exclude Patients Using Addiction Medication. The Justice Department has reached a settlement with a skilled nursing facility in which the facility agreed to pay a fine for excluding a patient because the patient was being treated for opioid use disorder with suboxone and agreed not to discriminate in the future. "Our office is committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, which includes those in treatment for an Opioid Use Disorder," United States Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said. "As Massachusetts faces this overdose epidemic, now more than ever, individuals in recovery must not face discriminatory barriers to treatment."

International

Taliban Kill Dozens of Afghan Police in Opium Trafficking Areas. In attacks late last week, Taliban fighters attacking Afghan police bases in Farah province, killing more than 30 police. The province, in the west of the country, contains vital opium smuggling routes into neighboring Iran. Opium from Afghanistan's primary opium province, Helmand, moves north into Farah before heading for the Iranian border.

Georgia Sees Mass Protests After Weekend Mass-Arrest Drug Raids. The capital, Tbilisi, was rocked by mass protests all weekend long after interior ministry police raided two popular nightclubs and arrested more than 60 people on drug charges. Protesters were demanding the freedom of those arrested and a liberalization of the country's drug policies, and were only persuaded to stop -- at least until next weekend -- after Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia promised the government would start working on drug reforms today. The protests also saw the emergence of ultra-rightist thugs who came out to counter-demonstrate.

Illinois Cop's Warning: If You Legalize Weed, We'll Have to Kill Our Drug Dogs

As the state legislature ponders a bill that could make Illinois the 10th state to legalize marijuana, law enforcement is getting nervous. Old anti-marijuana shibboleths have lost their potency, but the Macon County Sheriff's Office has a brand new reason not to free the weed: They will have to kill their drug dogs.

drug dog at work (Creative Commons)
As the Daily Pantagraph reported in an article about what happens to marijuana-sniffing drug dogs in states where it is legal, the dogs typically are trained to detect a number of drugs and it is difficult to retrain them not to alert on marijuana. Other states that have legalized it have either retired their pot-sensitive dogs, tried to retrain them, or used them to search for large, illicit amounts of marijuana.

But Chad Larner, training director of the K-9 Training Academy in Macon County, scoffed at the notion of retraining, saying it would be "extreme abuse" to try to do so, and "Larner said a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized."

That claim is a ridiculous "red herring," Illinois NORML executive director Dan Linn told the Pantagraph. "The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal… all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic," he said.

Other Illinois drug dog cops contacted by the Pantagraph largely agreed with Linn. They said retired drug dogs "typically live with their handlers" and they "dismissed the idea that any would be euthanized because of retirement."

The Macon County sheriff doesn't go as far as his drug dog trainer, but he is a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization because… drug dogs.

"The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you're going to have to replace all of your dogs," said Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett. "So to me, it's a giant step forward for drug dealers, and it's a giant step backwards for law enforcements and the residents of the community."

Sheriff Buffett isn't just any sheriff. He's the son of Omaha billionaire investor Warren Buffett, and he's used his family wealth both to finance law enforcement spending in the county and to basically buy his way into the sheriff's office. Earlier this year, he announced that his Howard G. Buffett Foundation was donating $1.4 million to the county to pay for everything from new records systems to new guns and ballistic vests. He was appointed to his position by retiring Sheriff Thomas Schneider last September and will serve until a new sheriff is elected in November.

Buffett also financed drug dogs across the state. His foundation paid $2.2 million in 2016 to support drug dog units in 33 Illinois counties. No wonder he and his employees are doing the 2018 version of the classic National Lampoon cover: "Buy This Magazine or We'll Kill This Dog."

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have a pill-peddling former deputy, a Baton Rouge cop who made a joint mysteriously disappear, and more. Let's get to it:

In Bolivia, North Carolina, a former Brunswick County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Thursday on multiple drug and embezzlement charges. John Christian Blasingame, 42, had been fired in 2016, but was still in possession of state property, including a sheriff's office identification card, a sheriff's office badge, a sheriff's office tie with pin, a sheriff's office lapel pin, and sheriff's office plastic junior deputy badges. Oh, and various drugs. He is charged with selling a Schedule II controlled substance, possession with intent to sell a Schedule II controlled substance, felony possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and embezzlement of state property, among other charges.

In Gretna, Louisiana, a Jefferson Parish jail guard was arrested Monday on charges he smuggled weed into the jail. Correctional deputy Lyndon Hawkins, 25, admitted to smuggling weed when confronted by narcotics detectives. He is charged with transporting drugs into a correctional facility.

In Baton Rouge, a Baton Rouge police officer was fired last Friday after spending seven months on paid administrative leave for failing to report a marijuana joint she seized from a suspect. Michelle Patterson rewrote her incident report to remove any mention of the weed. A criminal investigation is now ended.

Chronicle AM: MO MMJ Inits Hand in Beaucoup Signatures, OH Racial Profiling Drug Dogs, More... (5/7/18)

Two separate Missouri medical marijuana initiatives appear set to qualify for the November ballot, the Utah medical marijuana initiative is generating organized opposition -- including the DEA -- Canada's prime minister says it's full steam ahead for marijuana legalization, and more.

Black drivers in Ohio are more likely to get drug dogs sicced on them than white ones, official data shows. (Wikimedia)
Medical Marijuana

Missouri Initiative Campaigns Hand in Many Signatures. New Approach Missouri and Find the Cure, the folks behind a pair of medical marijuana initiatives (they differ only on how regulations would work and where tax dollars would go), announced last Friday that they had handed in roughly double the number of signatures they need to come up with 160,000 valid voter signatures. Find the Cure said it had handed in more than 300,000 signatures, while New Approach Missouri said it had handed in more than 370,000. Although initiative petitions occasionally see half of their signatures get disqualified, it's far more typical for them to lose a third. If both initiatives make the ballot, the one with the most votes on election day wins.

Michigan Regulators Recommend Approving 10 New Qualifying Conditions. The state's Medical Marihuana Review Panel has recommended the approval of 10 new conditions that could qualify people to use medical marijuana. That's out of a list of 22 conditions people had asked the panel to review. The conditions include obsessive compulsive disorder, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, Parkinson's, Tourettes, spinal cord injury, autism, and chronic pain. The recommendations now go to Shelly Edgerton, the director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, who has until July 10 to make a final decision.

Utah Medical Marijuana Initiative Gets Organized Opposition, Including the DEA. Organized opposition to the Utah Patients Coalition's medical marijuana initiative has emerged, and it includes a local DEA task force, raising questions about a federal agency interfering in a state-level ballot question. Drug Safe Utah is recruiting paid canvassers to try to get voters who signed initiative campaigns to retract their signatures. Its members include the Utah Medical Association and the DEA's Salt Lake City Metro Narcotics Task Force.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Three Democratic Senators Urge FDA to Pull High-Dose Opioids from Market. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Ed Markey (D-MA) are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove ultra-high dose opioids from the market because of concerns about "accidental ingestion, borrowed medication, and recreational use." The senators said patients who need high dose opioids could just take more pills, patches, or other formulations. "We believe these ultra-high dose opioids can be removed from the market without imposing hardship on those with legitimate pain needs," the senators wrote. But the Academy of Integrative Pain Management disagreed, saying the pulling the high dose opioids would "in some situations, create a greater danger because patients would be required to have several times more pills available to meet their needs. The burden of this would fall on the sickest patients, including those with cancer and/or receiving palliative/hospice/end-of-life care, whose quality of life would be diminished."

Racial Profiling

Ohio Highway Patrol More Likely to Use Drug Dogs on Black Drivers. The Associated Press has examined records on highway stops that show the state Highway Patrol uses drug-sniffing dogs on black drivers at a disproportionate rate. Blacks account for about 13% of the state population and 14% of drivers stopped by troopers, but 28% of stops where drug dogs were used. The AP made the records request after a federal appeals court criticized the arrest of a black driver on the Ohio Turnpike in 2014 and threw out the evidence used to convict him.

International

Canadian PM Says Marijuana Legalization Plan Will Proceed Without Delay. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last Thursday that his plan to legalize marijuana this summer will proceed without delay, despite misgivings being voiced in the Senate. "We're going to continue to move forward. We're going to bring in legalization as we've committed to this summer on schedule," Trudeau said.

Nigeria Bans Codeine. Responding to the rising recreational use of codeine-based cough syrups, the Nigerian federal government last week banned further imports of codeine into the country. The move comes as the country attempts to rewrite its drug and mental health policies.

Feds Indict Maine Marijuana Users for Buying Guns

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

Less than a month ago, AlterNet published 4 Ways Using Even Legal Marijuana Makes You a Second Class Citizen, which enumerated some of the reasons marijuana legalization by itself is not sufficient to guarantee the rights of marijuana users. One of those reasons was the inability of marijuana users to legally own or purchase guns.

Under federal law, enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), all gun purchasers must fill out Form 4473. "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" the form asks.

Last year, and just to make sure stoners got the message, ATF has added the following language: "Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside."

The article noted that marijuana users who want to legally purchase a weapon would have to lie on Form 4473, but that they were unlikely to be caught and prosecuted.

That has changed. The US attorney in Maine has now indicted two men on federal firearms charges for allegedly lying about their marijuana use on the gun purchase form.

Donald Henderson, 33, of Winthrop, was indicted for alleged false statements while buying a pistol from a local gun shop in February 2017 and again while purchasing another pistol the following month. The indictment alleges he checked the box saying he was not a marijuana user when he in fact was.

And Richard Quattrone, 48, of Augusta, was also indicted for lying on a federal firearms license in March 2017. The indictment says he purchased a pistol from the same local gun shop as Henderson and checked the box saying he was not a user of marijuana or controlled substances when he was in fact "an unlawful user of marijuana."

The federal prosecutors in Maine are on firm legal ground -- the law is quite clear -- but the question now becomes whether a political backlash can rein them in. That's what happened when law enforcement officials in some states tried to order registered medical marijuana patients to turn in their guns. In Pennsylvania, the state Health Department is no longer providing the names of patients to law enforcement after newspapers there reported the patients would not be able to buy firearms; in Illinois, regulators removed a rule that would have barred legal gun owners from becoming patients; and in Hawaii, police had to walk back a plan to force patients to hand in their guns.

The Jeff Sessions Justice Department, where ATF resides, is unlikely to be as swayed by angry public opinion as state officials in legal marijuana states, and that suggests that people who use marijuana need to really think twice before filling out that Form 4473. If they tell the truth, they will be barred from purchasing a gun; if they lie, they could be charged with a federal criminal offense and sent to prison.

If you're a marijuana user and really, really want to buy a gun, you may want to stick to gun shows and private purchases, but you are still potentially liable for federal prosecution if you get caught with it and the local US attorney wants to score a coup.

This is one more reason state legalization is only half the battle.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week brings a full hand of cops arrested on various drug charges, including a South Carolina police chief with a pill habit and a New Jersey cop with a drug-dealing habit. Let's get to it:

In Dothan, Alabama, a Dothan police officer was arrested last Tuesday for allegedly possessing stolen drugs. Sergeant Jonathan Whaley went down after he began behaving erratically during a training class, was then drug tested, and placed on paid leave. Police then searched his vehicle and found Xanax and codeine that are believed to have been stolen from a home where Whaley answered a medical call. He is charged with two counts of illegally possessing controlled substances and two counts of theft.

In Walhalla, South Carolina, the former Walhalla police chief was arrested last Friday, just days after he was forced to resign, for allegedly illegally obtaining prescription drugs from officers, their families, and private citizens over a seven-year period. A three-count indictment says he cadged spare pain pills that had been obtained legitimately by officers under his command. He faces three counts of misconduct in office. He's looking at up to three years in prison.

In Paterson, New Jersey, a Paterson police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he dealt heroin and cocaine to a wired-up informant. Officer Ruben McAusland, 26, is accused of repeatedly selling heroin, crack, and powder cocaine to local drug dealers. He faces unspecified drug distribution charges and is now out on $100,000 bail.

In Waxhaw, North Carolina, a Gaston County assistant district attorney was arrested Sunday after he was caught in possession of heroin and methamphetamine. Assistant DA James Brandon Graham was carrying 11 syringes, six of which contained heroin and three of which tested positive for meth. Two were empty. He charged with felony counts of heroin and methamphetamine possession and a misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia. His workload included drug cases. There is no word yet on how those cases may be effected.

In Newport News, Virginia, a Poquoson police officer was arrested Monday for allegedly taking a bribe from a drug dealing suspect "in exchange for impeding prosecution." Officer Dearyl Anderson, 56, faces a single count of bribery. He is now on administrative leave.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

There must be something in the water in Memphis, a Massachusetts dope squad is under investigation for thuggery, more prison guards go down, and more. Let's get to it:

In Springfield, Massachusetts, the Springfield Narcotics Unit is under investigation. City leaders and representatives of the US Attorney's Civil Rights Division met last Friday to discuss opening a federal investigation into the department's former narcotics unit. The investigation is prompted by public reports and will look into whether the former unit engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force in violation of the Constitution.

In Bismarck, North Dakota, a Burleigh County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Tuesday on drug and theft charges while on the job. Deputy Kerry Komrosky, 31, allegedly stole a pound of methamphetamine and 13 cell phones from the Metro Area Task Force. Komrosky went down after he failed to return from a lunch break and his sergeant went to his home to look for him. There he found evidence linking Komrosky to the missing drugs and phones. He ischarged with three felonies and a misdemeanor -- possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, two charges of theft of property and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In St. John, US Virgin Islands, a USVI prison guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he smuggled drugs into the Golden Grove Correctional Facility. Darren Giddings is charged with promoting prison contraband and introduction of narcotics or an addictive drug into the prison. He's currently out on bail.

In Memphis, Tennessee, two Memphis police officers were arrested last Thursday after getting ensnared in an undercover drug sting. Officers Terrion Bryson and Kevin Coleman went down after an investigation that begin in February into reports the two were stealing money and drug during traffic stops. Memphis Police deployed an undercover agent, who was stopped twice by the pair. Both times they stole money from him. Later, Bryson contacted the undercover agent to tell him he could help ensure his drug shipments made it safely through the city, while Coleman threatened to harm his family if the deal was a set-up. Last Thursday, the pair agreed to guard a shipment of what they thought was heroin, and were arrested on the scene. They are both charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, delivery and sell, along with criminal attempt felony and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a former Shelby County sheriff's deputy was sentenced last Wednesday to 63 months in federal prison for stealing money from a drug dealer and tampering with a witness. Jeremy Drewery, a 17-year veteran, arrested a drug dealer and tried to convince him to become an informant, but when the dealer refused, Drewery demanded a cash payment to let him go free. The dealer then contacted a lawyer, who turned to the FBI, which then recorded interactions between Drewery and the dealer. After Drewery was arrested for that, he then offered another confidential informant $2,000 to kill the dealer.

In Fall River, Massachusetts, a former state prison guard was sentenced Tuesday to 3 ½ years in state prison for dealing heroin. Stephen Lebreaux, 43, had copped to a multi-count indictment for trafficking and distributing heroin. The prison guard went down after selling heroin four times to an undercover officer.

In Bicknell, Indiana, a Bicknell police officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he gave a heads-up to a drug suspect, jeopardizing an undercover drug operation. Officer Kevin Carroll, 47, is charged with official misconduct and criminal recklessness. He's now out on bail.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Vermont cop was wooing girlfriends with dope from the evidence locker, a Pennsylvania narc goes down for ripping off drug money, a Mississippi cop goes away for dealing weed, and more. Let's get to it:

In Middletown, Ohio, a Seven Mile auxiliary police officer was arrested last Thursday along with 12 dealers for trafficking in fentanyl for a Mexican drug cartel. Officer Christopher Watkins, 23, is accused of acting as a drug mule by traveling to California and transporting a drug shipment back to Ohio for $1,000 in cash. He and the 12 others are all charged with distribution of narcotics and money laundering.

In Monroe, Louisiana, a Richwood Correctional Center guard was arrested last Saturday after contraband was found on him as he arrived at work. Guard Tyre Manning, 41, was carrying two sandwich bags filled with synthetic cannabinoids, as well as a cell phone and rolling tobacco.

In South Royalton, Vermont, a former South Royalton police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to stealing heroin and prescription opioids from the department evidence locker. John Breault had admitted stealing the drugs last summer for his girlfriend, who later became an FBI informant. She also said Breault let her search the evidence locker herself, and she took fentanyl pataches, oxycodone, and Zoloft as Breault watched, and that he took a bag of weed for another woman. He pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin and is looking at up to 20 years in prison.

In Philadelphia, a former state attorney general's office agent pleaded guilty Tuesday to scheming to pilfer illicit drug proceeds. Timothy Riley, accepted three cash payments totaling $48,000 he knew was stolen from a drug dealer. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and is now looking at up to 20 years in federal prison.

In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a former Hattiesburg police officer was sentenced Monday to five years and month in federal prison for his role in a marijuana distribution scheme. Thomas Wheeler, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted possession of 50 kilograms or more of marijuana with the intent to distribute. He went down after state troopers pulled over a vehicle driven by his grandfather and found a load of weed, then spotted Wheeler in another vehicle nearby. Both grandpa and Wheeler confessed to their roles in the plot.

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