The Coastal Post - March, 1999

Out Of Control Prosecutors Lynch The Constitution

By Stephen Simac

We are living in a land which has abandoned its constitution and the fundamental rights of its citizens for the illusion of more security. The War on (people who do) Drugs and other High Crimes has slaughtered the Bill of Rights while government prosecutors have led the bayonet charge. Federal prosecutors have a 90% conviction rate, mostly in drug cases. It's not because they're such great lawyers. That federal prosecutors can drag any American down has been made obvious by Ken Starr. Like junkyard dogs that eat their own master, federal prosecutors are devouring the constitutional rights of American citizens. KBG In Mendocino County

The abuses are numerous and horrendous, but in Mendocino County an almost unbelievable perversion of justice has been going on for years. The story of local, state and federal law officers' conspiring to crush an alleged marijuana grower, John Dalton, was written up in the Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA) by Mark Heimann, based on sworn affidavits from the case.

According to the AVA series, Dalton had been suspected of being a big time potgrower since 1987 by Mendocino County's Narcotics Task Force although they had never obtained any evidence against him. He had a machine shop, some land, a house and fast cars, but had never been caught with any drugs.

A former girlfriend of one of the Narcotics Task Force (NTF) officers, Victoria Horstman, married John Dalton in 1993. Within months of her marriage, she arranged with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency to spy on her husband, including bugging their bedroom. Special Agent Mark Nelson of the DEA was her control, and he threatened her with money laundering charges if she didn't cooperate. He set up an elaborate spy game with Horstman as special agent 0054, clandestine meetings and drop points, and of course sex with Special Agent Nelson for months. With her help he also illegally tapped Dalton's phones, and with that information convinced a local judge to sign a forfeiture seizure warrant.

It seems amazing that a man's wife can be used by the federal government to destroy her husband, at least while he's still married to her. The sanctity of marriage and all that, is completely stripped in today's courts where children and families are encouraged, even compelled to testify against their own kin. Even more so that a warrant can be used to take away your home and possessions even if you are not convicted of a crime.

Men In Black Home Invasion

The swat team arrival at the Dalton's was typical of the thousands of such home invasions across the country by our legal forces, mostly against minorities. Bands of armed men bursting down doors, people shouting, women and children screaming, scattered belongings and a miracle if no one gets shot. It's always self defense if they kill someone. Swat team judge, jury and executioner.

The DEA and NTF agents invaded as Horstman's children were being readied for school. Along with the adults, they were held at gunpoint and handcuffed, before they were driven by a sheriff's officer to school with a cheery sendoff, "Hope you said goodbye to your dad, because you ain't gonna see him for a long, long time." Not even grammatically correct.

John Dalton was not arrested that day, but his truck and fast cars were seized under drug forfeiture laws. They even seized his 56 Chevy while he was driving the kids around, after getting it running a week later. Agent Nelson knew he'd got it running, because he'd rented out a nearby house to spy on Dalton. Pizza delivered.

American Family Values-DEA Style

Within weeks, Agent Nelson then helped his adulterous spy Horstmann move out of Dalton's house with her kids. The DEA agent rented and helped load her a U HAUL to move to Washington state. She was promised 10% of the proceeds from the forfeiture of Dalton's property when it concluded.

She ended up destitute a year later with no more money from the DEA. Dalton, still married to her, helped her move to Modesto and tried to convince her to stay married. Special Agent Nelson drove her to a divorce lawyer in Santa Rosa to sign the final papers.

Meanwhile the federal government was trying John Dalton by secret Federal grand jury. This is where the power of federal prosecutors to gain conviction of any American is made. Once in their system you are threatened with long years in prison if you don't cooperate and the promise of leniency or even monetary awards for testifying against another person. That's a combination that can convince almost anyone to say what the feds want them to rather than life in prison, no parole.

On the basis of such testimony, Dalton was arrested and charged with three federal crimes on Sept. 27, 1996. The witnesses against Dalton, included his brother in law, who'd been charged with operating a methamphetamine lab. Daniel Bang, who also had an arsenal of illegal weapons, willingly fingered Dalton for the 2,800 plant pot farm Bang had been busted for growing in 1987 when he was living on Dalton's land. He got ten years instead of life in exchange for his testimony.

Another witness, William Miranda, was paid for his testimony that Dalton was a pot grower and had hired him to kill Agent Nelson and bribe another officer. He was paid by the government, either $3,000 as they claim or $30,000 as Horstman complained, who only got $3,000. Miranda has since disappeared.

Michael Scott, a UPS driver who made deliveries to Dalton's machine shop, had been approached by a Mendocino police officer to help set up Dalton. He refused several times, until he was arrested and charged with ten federal crimes, including perjury. He caved in and pled guilty to perjury, and testified against Dalton. At this point his testimony should have been suspect, he was a convicted perjurer.

Judge Kafka's Court

John Dalton, has yet to face his accusers. He has been denied bail, because Agent Nelson testified that he was a danger to society. Two years later he remains in Dublin Federal Prison. He is another object lesson that law enforcement officials are using the declared War on Drugs to flay the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

He has countersued the various agencies and individuals who have made war on him and his family for $44 million. His lawyer, Tony Serra, has also filed to have the government's case thrown out of court based on the outrageous conduct of the agents involved. The grinding of federal justice has been slowed to a glacial pace by the number of drug cases, but the onus is on the victims who must wait years for trial dates. His case is not unusual, most victims are never heard of, just another prison bed.

First They Came For The...

Drug or sex offenders, or terrorists, or the next public scapegoat pointed out by the media are easy for the majority of the public to accept, even demand that they be denied their rights. Elected officials and law enforcement agents have responded by taking war powers and abridging the constitution to defeat the enemy. The courts have tended to uphold ever more flagrant abuses of constitutional rights in this war. Because they are certain that they will never need their rights, they are willing to surrender other's.

There are no containing walls between the loss of other's rights, and the potential loss of our own. If your skin color is darker than skin color crayons, you already live in a police state. The courts are jammed and the prisons are swollen with drug offenders. There's no shortage of conscripts for the War on Drugs on either side, the money's too good.

Prosecutors and Defenders both profit from the boom. Wall Street's bullish on the prison industry. The president can get sucked off, but not inhale. Clinton will never end the War, call it a draw although he's well aware that the most damaging effects of drugs are caused by their illegality. The politicians are not going to provide the leadership needed for a truce, nor will the lawyers and others who profit from its industries.

Only the prisoners and those who love them may be motivated to end the failed war, because most people on the outside believe they deserve it or that they will never be a victim of the war. That their family would never turn on them.

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