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February 8, 2004 Sidebars

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Evidence of drug related program activities is a serious matter!



This is a curious thing - the bad guys sting the cops and still go to jail.   Over suspicious chocolate bars, of course. 

One thinks of Tommy Chong.  He does have a son named Paris. 

Yes, one more item from l'Agence France-Presse (AFP) by way of The Tocqueville Connection:



PARIS, Feb 2 (AFP) - Five men who conducted their own sting on a French police undercover operation by swapping a promised delivery of cannabis resin for bars of chocolate were sentenced to prison Monday after getting convicted on an obscure health law. 

But the lawyer for the mastermind of the double-cross, a 22-year-old named Rodolphe Grosol, said his client was the victim of an unsuccessful set-up. 

The police operation started when an undercover officer met Grosol in a Paris bar in August 2002 and was offered 30 kilogrammes (66 pounds) of cannabis resin for 50,000 euros (62,000 dollars).  The day of the delivery, police raided Grosol's apartment and arrested his accomplices. 

But instead of finding a stash of the drug in the apartment, they found five blocks of chocolate made up to look like cannabis - which Grosol planned to pass off as the real thing. 

Despite protestations from his lawyer that he was not guilty of possessing drugs, Grosol was finally convicted and sentenced for violating a little-known health law that bans "incitement to the use of a substance presented as a narcotic."

Grosol was given a three-year jail sentence, with 16 months of it suspended. 

His four accomplices received terms ranging from 18 months suspended to 15 months behind bars, and two of them, North Africans without French citizenship, were to be deported. 


Curious.  Very curious. 

And on this side of the pond?

This from Adam Bulger, in the New York Press, January 20, 2004...


Early on the morning of February 24, 2003, the Pacific Palisades, CA, home of actor Tommy Chong was raided by federal officers.  In classic "hey, man" fashion, Chong sleepily told the intruding officers that they must have the wrong house.  The feds replied they most certainly had the right house, as well as a warrant to search it for glass pipes, of which they found a bunch, along with a pound of high-grade marijuana.  When first asked if there were any pot on the property, Chong allegedly replied, "Of course; I'm Tommy Chong."

On September 11, 2003, Chong was sentenced for selling drug paraphernalia.  Of the 55 people arrested and prosecuted in the bong sweep-officially dubbed "Operation Pipe Dreams" - Chong was the only one with no prior convictions and is currently serving nine months in California's Taft federal prison.  (Sort of federal, anyway: In the 90s, Taft became the first privately managed prison in America, and is run by the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation.)

It was Chong's first arrest.  During years of smoking and advocating drug use, the only crime of which Chong had been found guilty was making The Corsican Brothers.  Nor did Chong even run Chong's Bongs, the business in question.  Although he pumped a lot of money into it and promoted the company, it was the brainchild of his son, Paris.  Chong pleaded guilty to protect his wife and children from prosecution.  Nobody thought that the 65-year-old father of five would serve jail time. 

Stan Levenson, a veteran attorney with decades of experience arguing federal cases, was one of three lawyers retained by Mr. Chong during his federal trial in Pittsburgh. 

"I thought here would be a client, a high-visibility client, presumably with the means to finance a defense, and it could be a fun case to try," he says.  "It's an offensive prosecution.  I don't understand the thinking behind bringing this kind of prosecution.  Who benefits?"


I guess we all do. 

Think of it this way, pipes and chocolate are in fact evidence of drug related program activities after all.  And when I don't pay my rent and the landlord knocks I'll wave my checkbook and claim that it shows evidence of payment related program activities.  I'm sure that will do.


And from my friend Phillip Raines in Georgia:


Another accomplishment of legal absurdity.  I guess the French angle is to keep a heroin dealer from passing off some sugar to a cop as part of a "sting you" operation.  The chocolate isn't pot but it is shaped like pot leaves - well then there you have it.  The thing on Chong's bongs was a regrettable injustice.  I remember Ashcroft looking so smug about stopping some one from selling bongs to our youth as if we should be thankful we had such righteous protection.  Reinforced the assumption he was an asshole of epic proportions to me.  He must have been thinking "If only I can out do the prosecutor who sentenced Galileo... but how?"  Well, he hit on it.  How can a torturer ply his trade these days?  If only he was out to do some good instead of be so mean.  Another news blip today is Al Gore's son got popped for a roach.  These are dire times.  As an aside, there is a confectionary shop in Amsterdam that serves hash hot chocolate, a satisfying drink and how.


Amsterdam sounds good.  Let's go.