Saturday, April 24, 2004
"Operation Sandshaker"

This week's award for most colossal waste of the taxpayer's money goes to the three-year investigation in the Panhandle of Florida that netted 53 low-level cocaine consumers.

For the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars that will be spent as a result of this operation, you are safe from these folks -- who probably consume it at home on weekends.

Most are seemingly ordinary, middle-aged people. They include two lawyers, a teacher, boat captain, bartender, insurance adjuster, homebuilder, hairdresser, plumber, chef and artist. The most prominent is a college foundation board member, millionaire Charles Lamar Switzer, 54, who is awaiting trial on state charges..

In other words, productive members of society who use the drug responsibly. And never mind the cost of the investigation and prosecuting the cases, some of these people will probably lose their jobs and worse as a result of the arrest and thus you the taxpayer will bear the burden of their reduced contributions to the tax base.

Law enforcement is touting this a major bust of a "kingpin." Yet although 50 year old lead defendant Mitchell "Jackie" Seale III lists his occupation as drug dealer, by the government's own admission,

"This was more of a cocaine cooperative than a cocaine conspiracy," Couch said, noting Seale spent everything he made on more cocaine. "This was not a kingpin who was living on the fat of others."

However, US District Judge Vinton made an upward departure in sentencing, adding additional prison time because, "... you are a nice, likeable guy." The US District Attorney meanwhile refused to recommend a lesser sentence in return for Seales cooperation in the case because, "Seale's only remorse is over getting caught."

And why should he have remorse for a victimless crime? He provided a service for consenting adults, contributed to the local economy and clearly was not a dangerous criminal who was ripping people off for the money. Judge Vinson ordered Seale pay a fine of $1,000 in $20 monthly installments because he lacked the resources to pay a higher fine.

So how can they call him a kingpin?


At 1:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've probably long forgotten about this article. But being close to the case itself I'm glad to see that there is someone else out there that realized the complete over reaction and bullshit on this case.


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