Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blackmail, Witness Tampering, Criminal Misconduct: Routine Business for the Flathead County Gestapo

If Kafka and Dickens collaborated on a character, Ed Corrigan would be the result.

“These sort [sic] of things are not unusual,” sniffed Ed Corrigan, District Attorney for Flathead County, Montana, in response to a complaint against him filed with the state attorney general. “It’s not uncommon for a disgruntled defendant or disgruntled defense attorney to file complaints with either the attorney general or with the Office of Disciplinary Council.”

Not surprisingly, Corrigan’s statement is a misrepresentation. Such complaints are relatively uncommon – but not because of a paucity of prosecutorial misconduct. The corruption and criminal behavior documented in the complaint against Corrigan's office – which include witness tampering, interference with the attorney-client relationship, and official retaliation -- actually reflect the industry standard for his profession. 

What is unusual about this case is that a defense attorney was not intimidated into silence, and was able to provide irrefutable documentation of the charges – a fact demonstrated by the haste with which Corrigan’s office dropped criminal charges against his defendant, rather than deal with these disclosures in court.

Late last summer, defense attorney Timothy Baldwin filed a Rule 11 motion demanding that Corrigan and Deputy DA Kenneth “Rusty” Park be punished for official misconduct. At the time, Baldwin represented a defendant named Cory Franklin who faced decades in prison on drug conspiracy charges. 

Franklin’s wife Kristina, a woman who admits to being a habitual methamphetamine consumer, had been pressured into becoming an informant for the Northwest Drug Task Force. Although she believed that her husband could beat the charges in court, she agreed to become a snitch after being told that her “cooperation” would earn leniency for her husband.

Unwelcome: Defense attorney Tim Baldwin.

Baldwin believed the case against Cory Franklin was weak, and began to file discovery requests and other motions on his behalf. The Franklins, who were regrettably familiar with the behavior of public defenders, found Baldwin’s behavior to be a delightful novelty.

“Tim Baldwin is the only attorney who’s ever done anything for us,” Mrs. Franklin later pointed out. “The rest of the attorneys didn’t file any motions, didn’t do nothing [sic] to help Cory.” 

Deputy DA Park likewise considered Baldwin’s behavior to be unusual – and, for his purposes, unacceptable: It simply wouldn’t do for a defense attorney to mount an actual defense, rather than acting as a broker for a deal dictated by the prosecutor.

“I’m going to make this simple,” Park wrote in an April 30th email to Baldwin. “Cory can take 20 years with 10 suspended right now…. [He] will be required to continue to assist the agent on other federal and state charges that he has been assisting on, including but not limited to conducting interviews, testifying in state or federal courts and/or in front of the grand jury.”

If Mr. Franklin didn’t want to spend the next two decades of his life as a disposable slave-informant on behalf of the task force, Park continued, “he will be subject to a minimum sentence of 15 years [in the Montana State Prison] in addition to whatever time he is facing on the revocation [of his probation] plus prosecution from the federal government.” 

“This offer expires at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, or upon the filing of ANY motions of any sort from your office except a motion for a change of plea,” gloated Park in a flourish reeking of a kidnapper’s triumphal arrogance. “This offer is not open to any further negotiation.” 

Roughly a week before sending that email, Park had told Mrs. Franklin that he “cannot stand Tim Baldwin,” and that because Baldwin was representing Franklin and her husband “he would throw my husband to the federal government for criminal prosecution … [and] that it would be in my husband’s best interest to get a new attorney, because if he had a different attorney, Mr. Park would be willing to work with him….” 

To punctuate that ultimatum, the Task Force fired Kristina Franklin as an informant, acting in the misplaced confidence that this would leave her without options. However, Kristina had a great deal of practice setting up others on behalf of the Task Force, so simply turned that skill against her handler -- which is the first time it had been used for a morally defensible purpose. She called Deputy McKeag Johns, who – owing to either distraction or complacency – offered explicit first-hand testimony of Park’s criminal misconduct during the 26-minute recorded conversation. 

“I can only say that he [Park] told me that, yes, he was going to help you based on the work that you did, so I don’t know if he’s trying to like – he must be against Tim Baldwin, I assume,” Johns told Mrs. Franklin. But “it’s not just Rusty” who was unwilling to countenance Tim Baldwin, Johns continued: “Nobody likes Tim…. You need to look into the attorney that you have and make sure you’re getting along with him correctly. Because it comes down to, do you want the entire County Attorney’s Office against you?”

Baldwin was uniquely unacceptable, Johns said, because he’s “a constitutionalist kind of guy.” The Deputy also served up a greasy porridge of insinuation and rumor intended to persuade Mrs. Franklin that the only attorney willing to defend them in court was using them as “his puppets” in the hope of racking up billable hours.

However, as Johns candidly admitted, the County Attorney’s problem with Baldwin was not his supposed greed, but his principled intransigence.

“Well, honestly, it’s because you’re pushing so hard,” Johns told Mrs. Franklin. “I’m trying to help you. I will try to help you. But you guys are pushing it to a point with that frickin’ attorney that it makes it really hard for all of us. Every other attorney out there typically kind of works with us or we work with them, we try to find a deal that works good for you guys.”

Johns was admitting that Park and his boss, DA Corrigan, were punishing the Franklins because their attorney wasn’t interested in helping the Task Force expand its stable of confidential informants. 

Displaying the ersatz solicitude of a sex trafficker dealing with a runaway reluctant to enter the trade, Johns affected concern for Mrs. Franklin and her family – strictly conditioned on her willingness to be properly submissive and profitable in her boss’s employ.

“You’ve done – you’ve done great work for me,” Johns told the weeping, desperate woman. “Kristina, I wish that I could find C.I.s like you every day of the week. Because I think you’re doing a great thing for our community.” At the same time, Johns warned her, if he caught her using meth, “I’m the guy that’s going to throw you in jail … because I care about the well-being of your children.”

Mind you, that tender concern for the Franklins’ children didn’t prevent Johns from participating in a conspiracy to extort a plea deal from their father, or exploiting their mother as an undercover informant in potentially risky narcotics investigations.

After learning about the June 4th conversation between Johns and Mrs. Franklin, Baldwin filed a motion to recuse Park as a prosecutor. Park stoutly denied the allegations – and promptly confirmed them by filing a motion to dismiss the case against Cory Franklin, an act that would constitute official nonfeasance if Mr. Franklin were indeed a dangerous criminal worthy of a twenty-year prison term.

Armed with the recorded conversation, a notarized transcription, and an affidavit from Mrs. Franklin attesting to its accuracy, Baldwin – along with fellow defense attorneys Phyllis and John Quatman -- filed a Rule 11 motion demanding sanctions against Corrigan and Parks. After a brief and not particularly suspense-laden interval, Attorney General Brant Light denied the motion, insisting that he didn’t believe that the allegations “warrant a criminal investigation of Ed Corrigan or Kenneth Park.”

Denied redress through official channels, Baldwin and the Quatmans, acting as the Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, took the matter before the public on September 15, releasing an on-line archive of documents and a detailed narrative of Park’s official misconduct.

“When we put together the Rule 11 complaint, we sent a draft of it to every defense attorney we knew of in Flathead County,” John Quatman told me. “We were hoping that at least some of them would join in our complaint as co-signers, or perhaps even add to it. Not a single defense attorney signed the complaint; in fact, we never even heard from any of them.”

A brief review of the documented allegations in the complaint offers adequate explanation for such reluctance. Over the course of nearly two decades in office, Ed Corrigan has refined the science of intimidation and retaliation.

Roughly 15 years ago, while John’s wife Phyllis was representing a defendant named Jackie Buck, Corrigan told the client’s parents that Mrs. Quatman “was a troublemaker and a problem” and promised that if Buck “fought her drug charges at all, he would file a sexual assault charge against her, which he did after she insisted on having a preliminary examination,” notes the complaint.

Corrigan’s vindictiveness and gift for creative sadism were displayed memorably during his term as a deputy DA in the case of a woman named Gerri Steffes. In December 1999, Steffes, who faced ten counts of prescription drug abuse, was suddenly hit with an eleventh charge – and arrested in front of her children three days before Christmas. This happened after Phyllis Quatman began to file motions to prepare to defend Steffes in court.

“Phyllis had filed the motions, then left the week of Christmas to visit family in California,” Mr. Quatman recounted to me. “Just days before Christmas, Corrigan filed the eleventh count as a separate charge so that she could be arrested and held in jail away from her family during Christmas. He waited until Phyllis was out of town to do this, and he filed in front of a judge who was a friend and former colleague in the prosecutor’s office. I had to go to the DA’s and personally intervene with Corrigan’s boss to arrange for bail.”

After Steffes was compelled to offer a guilty plea, the Quatmans filed a vindictive prosecution complaint against Corrigan.

“We were able to depose Corrigan on the stand, where he admitted, under oath, that he intended to put this woman in jail over Christmas, and that it gave him `great pleasure’ to think about who her attorney was,” Mr. Quatman recalled, his voice flavored with weary disgust.

Worst of both worlds: Kenneth "Rusty" Park

Kenneth Park, a former Oklahoma City Police Officer and federal undercover narcotics operative, has been Corrigan’s faithful disciple. When a defendant named Byron Nelson was accused of selling $100 worth of marijuana to a particularly insistent Task Force informant, the Quatmans prepared to present an entrapment defense. 

Park responded by dispatching three Task Force mouth-breathers – including McKeag Johns – to threaten and intimidate Nelson’s mother, who operates a legal medical marijuana dispensary.

“Those guys showed up with guns plainly visible, and started accusing that poor woman of selling marijuana to people without [government-issued medical] cards,” John Quatman recalled to me. “They knew those accusations were groundless, but they didn't care. One of them mentioned that the maximum penalty she could face would be up to 100 years in prison. They blackmailed Byron into accepting a guilty plea when he had a very good entrapment defense. When he was asked in his change of plea hearing if he had been coerced, Byron frankly said that he had, because the Task Force had threatened his mother.”

Like any other swaggering bully, Park is as intrepid as Hector when dealing with defenseless and marginalized people, but he dissolves into a puddle of petulance when he’s facing the receiving end of the enforcement apparatus.

In April 2013, Park decided to celebrate the third anniversary of his job with the Flathead County Prosecutor’s Office by getting drunk and assaulting his wife. Arrested at 9:30 on a Friday evening, Park faced the prospect of a weekend behind bars. 

Rather than manning up and dealing with a small sample of what he and his boss had inflicted on helpless people, Park had his attorney roust a Justice of the Peace from bed to hold an unprecedented midnight hearing during which he whimpered about the dangers he would face being locked up with representatives of the local criminal element.

Leaving aside the fact that Parks could have been put in a segregation unit, and brushing over the fact that petty criminals represent a higher grade of humanity than prosecutors of Park’s ilk, it’s useful to remember that Park has cultivated an image as a bold and valiant badass who infiltrated biker gangs during his law enforcement career. The same prosecutor who once gloated that he had a defendant “by the short and curlys” found that his own unexceptional dangling anatomy was inadequate for him to endure two days in jail. The people running Flathead County’s “justice” system were willing to make special arrangements to protect the poor, cringing little creature. 

The domestic violence charge was dropped, the long-suffering wife quite sensibly obtained a protective order and filed for divorce, and Parks was permitted to resume his well-compensated career visiting wreck and ruin on the lives of less violent people. Contacted for comment about this story Park offered a dismissive reference to “cowards” who are supposedly spreading “false statements” about his conduct. 

By dismissing the Cory Franklin case rather than defending his actions in court, Park engaged in behavior that could be characterized as cowardly. Of greater importance, however, is the fact that the chief witness against him was not a criminal defendant or a defense attorney, but McKeag Johns, his comrade in the local counter-narcotics Gestapo.  

 “Generally speaking, all narcotics investigations are questionable,” Quatman told me. “This isn’t limited to Flathead County – it’s nation-wide. Narcotics officers operate at the fringes of the law, and they develop an `Us-against-the-world’ mentality. They see themselves as saviors of humankind from the deluge of drugs – they’re shoring up the dikes trying to prevent a deluge that would destroy us all. This leads them to cut corners, ignore Due Process, lie to defendants, lie in reports, lie on the stand – because they think by doing so they’re benefiting humanity.”

Police who specialize in vice enforcement “usually start believing their own propaganda,” Quatman continues. “Prosecutors tend to be a little more cynical. They don’t like to work very hard, because they get paid a flat fee whether they win or lose. There is a lot of prestige at stake, however. Your win-loss record makes all the difference in the eyes of your peers, and in defining your career trajectory. There is huge pressure to win, and the prospect of being ostracized if you lose. This is why they prefer defense attorneys who don’t fight back.”

A former narcotics officer-turned- prosecutor, Park embodies the worst of both worlds. In Oklahoma, he was part of a federal multi-jurisdictional task force that focused on an area in which Interstates 35, 40, and 44 converged. This allowed them to rake in millions of dollars through seizures, some of which involved actual drug traffickers, and some of which inevitably targeted entirely innocent people who lost their money to “forfeiture.” 

Isn't that cute! Parks in Biker drag as a Fed.
In 2008 Park was awarded a law degree. Rather than seeking honest work, he found a sinecure with the DEA before moving to Montana to become a deputy county prosecutor. 

Once he arrived in Flathead County, Parks “attached himself to the drug task force,” Quatman recalls. “He became a `rip-and-run’-type prosecutor. They’re like drug enforcement officers who don’t pay much attention to the law or due process. They simply kick in doors and make arrests, figuring that everything will be sorted out later. Park was the kind of drug prosecutor who worked very well with officers like that.”

The task force was “carrying out searches without warrants or consent,” Quatman continues. “They were going through motel rooms, sending in officers posing a plumbers and that kind of thing. Naturally, we began to challenge their cases because of due process violations and generally shoddy police work, so we quickly became personae not grata because we weren’t following the familiar script. The same was true of Tim Baldwin, who approached us and wanted to work together because his clients were experiencing the same kind of treatment.”
Everybody involved in Flathead County’s court system is aware of the routine abuse and pervasive corruption, and nobody other than Baldwin and the Quatmans has been willing to confront it. 

“Corruption and collusion are endemic here in Flathead County, but we’re hardly unique in that respect,” insists John Quatman who spent 25 years as a deputy prosecutor in Alameda County, California. “It is alarming how law enforcement will bind together to protect their own, what the system is willing to do to protect itself – and how many lives are needlessly ruined as a result.” 

As Ed Corrigan said, there is nothing unusual about this kind of impenitent corruption and unpunished criminality. 

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast deals with the Flathead County Counter-Narcotics Gestapo; to listen or download that program, click here

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Time To Take Their Toys Away (UPDATED September 24)

Yes, this is how we live now: Ada County SWAT arrests a man for "disturbing the peace."

When Daniel Webster warned that there will always be men who “promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters,” he most likely had in mind people like Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney. 

Ironically, Webster’s brand of nationalism would have harmonized with Raney’s federal supremacist view of law enforcement, in which local police and sheriffs are duty-bound to carry out policies ordained by the central government, even when doing so pits them against the populations they supposedly serve. Not surprisingly, Raney is an ardent drug warrior, a proponent of civilian disarmament, and a stout defender of police militarization.

In June 2013, as nearly all of Idaho’s 44 sheriffs publicly pledged not to enforce any new federal anti-gun measures, Raney used an op-ed column in the Idaho Statesman to lecture the public that the Constitution’s “supremacy clause” means that “every state shall abide by the laws passed by our Congress.” Raney accused his colleagues in Idaho and neighboring states of being “indulgent” toward their misinformed constituents and “making hollow promises to protect you from the intrusions of the federal government.”

If and when Washington decrees that the helotry must be disarmed, Raney – while emitting great gusts of mournful reluctance, no doubt – would carry out the mission, displaying the same devotion to duty exhibited by his 19th Century predecessors as they enforced the Fugitive Slave Act: “[D]espite the fact that I personally oppose some of the gun control measures currently under consideration, my oath requires me to uphold the laws that are passed by our federal and state representatives.”

In carrying out that mission, Raney would certainly make use of the hardware transferred to his department by the Pentagon under the 1033 program. That prospect is obvious to observant Gem State residents, whose concerns prompted Raney to disgorge another op-ed column to assure local residents that his department has taken note of public concerns regarding police militarization.

Raney’s op-ed was published in the wake of the militarized police rampage in Ferguson, Missouri, during which the police focused their attention on protesters, while looters were left free to pillage local businesses. He admitted that the behavior of police officials in Ferguson was “abysmal,” and criticized them for responding to public protests “like a military unit defending Fallujah.” 

Here Raney makes dishonest use of an expression that has become a cliché: No American military unit ever “defended” Fallujah; the defenders of that city were the ones shooting at the armored vehicles carrying an unwelcome foreign army of occupation. Raney’s linguistic subterfuge here is significant, because the language of his op-ed column is that of an occupier striving to win the “hearts and minds” of the subject population. 

The real problem with what happened in Ferguson, from Raney’s point of view, is that it incited public disapproval of the Pentagon’s weapon-transfer program.

“The events in Ferguson have … called into question the militarization of police across the country and led the media to report local stories about that concern,” observed Raney or, more likely, his ghostwriter. “Here in Treasure Valley, law enforcement agencies have been given armored vehicles and other equipment.” 

The actions of militarized police in Ferguson shouldn’t disturb residents of Boise and the surrounding cities: “This is Ada County where we use those tools to keep people safe,” Raney insists, echoing assurances offered by kindred officials elsewhere – including Ferguson, Missouri. 

The real issue, Raney concludes, is “communication” – which for him and others of his ilk is a process in which the public dutifully takes dictation from its self-appointed overseers, accepts their pronouncements uncritically, and celebrates their wisdom and restraint in exercising their power over us. 

Harboring or expressing dissenting views displays “ignorance” – a word Raney used just a few days later in  an interview with Boise’s CBS affiliate while denouncing a proposed bill that would place the most modest imaginable restrictions on the transfer of military hardware to the police. 

The measure, which is co-sponsored by Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador and Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson, is grandly entitled the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.” If enacted, the bill would forbid transfer of some battlefield-grade offensive weaponry to police departments, such as armed drones and combat-configured aircraft. Most of its provisions would merely tighten up the bookkeeping involved in Pentagon transfers. The most laudable element of the bill would remove a requirement that agencies receiving those assets use them within a year – a provision that creates a perverse incentive for unnecessary paramilitary operations by police. 

Rep. Labrador describes the bill as an effort to re-draw the “clear line between the military and civilian policing.” 

Just days after appearing to concede that police in Ferguson had behaved like an occupying army, Raney sneered that the Labrador-Johnson bill “is bred out of ignorance.”
“I wish that the congressman would have talked to his constituency, and asked us here in law enforcement: how do you use that?” Raney complained. “This is something that helps keep our deputies, our officers, and our troopers safe. The military equipment many times can save taxpayers money. It’s not something to be afraid of.” 

Labrador’s mistake, apparently, was listening to those who are being plundered through taxation, not enriched by it. Such people are not his “constituency,” according to Raney, and their concerns aren’t worthy of the congressman’s attention. 

At this point it’s worth remembering Raney’s resolute statement that he would “uphold the laws that are passed by our federal and state representatives,” even if those enactments require the disarmament of the citizenry. The sheriff can countenance the idea of being commanded to confiscate guns from the public, but condemns congressional action to place negligible restrictions on his ability to get combat-grade hardware from the Pentagon.

Similar disapproval dripped from an op-ed published by Idaho Statesman editorial page editor Robert Ehlert. In the fashion of an “exhorter” following a circuit-riding preacher, Ehlert reiterated the main points made in Raney’s column, while heaping scorn on any stiff-necked unbelievers who persisted in thinking for themselves. 

“I have no problem with Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies accessing these tools,” writes Ehlert. “I like the fact that the Ada County sheriff and Boise Police Department…have used their equipment responsibly.” Ehlert’s unqualified approval of Raney and his comrades contrasted with his frigid disdain for those who spread “suspicion about this equipment when we have no record of abuse in Idaho.” 

Despite the assurance with which he pontificates on our local problems, Ehlert only arrived in the Gem State in April 2013. A little less than twenty years earlier a heavily militarized law enforcement contingent tried to annihilate an entire family at Ruby Ridge. One of the assailants, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi, murdered a nursing mother by shooting her in the head while she held her infant. 

In February 2013 – just a few weeks before the much-traveled “journalist” Ehlert was hired by the Statesman, a SWAT team terrorized an entire apartment complex in Caldwell during a midnight no-knock raid that was carried out on the basis of an unsubstantiated claim – made by a woman with a criminal record – that one resident had “threatened” her. David and Connie Johnson, whose home was the first to be invaded, were thrown to the ground and cuffed at gunpoint – despite the fact that the raiders had kicked in the wrong door, and none of the victims residing in the apartment resembled the suspect. 

Michael Gibbons and Marcella Cruz didn’t receive the full-fledged SWAT treatment during the illegal raid of their home in Letha, Idaho in August 2012. They nonetheless were menaced by Gem County Sheriff’s Deputies clad in body armor and carrying assault rifles. 

This raid was supposedly carried out because of an anonymous (and maliciously false) report of “domestic violence,” which would have justified a brief and unobtrusive “welfare check.” The military posture was deemed necessary because Michael Gibbons had been politically profiled as a “constitutionalist.”

I grant that it may be unfair to expect someone who helps edit a newspaper to stay abreast of local news, but Ehlert really should have been aware that on August 12 a SWAT team was deployed in Caldwell in an effort to apprehend a single suspected gang member, who escaped and was subsequently arrested through less dramatic means

Six days later, the oh-so-responsible Boise/Ada County SWAT team was deployed in an MRAP to arrest a man suspected of pointing a gun at a pedestrian. This raid, which took place late in the evening, resulted in an arrest on a single misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace, which is the sort of thing that happens when police carry out a military-style raid at midnight.

On August 26, another midnight SWAT deployment took place just a few blocks from my home in Payette. The target was a 37-year-old man named Billy Palmer. According to the Incident Report, Palmer was the subject of warrants in nearby Malheur County, Oregon for “Fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer” and “reckless driving” – neither of which is a violent felony. His previous record in Idaho consisted of a single $47.00 speeding citation. 

What apparently happened is that Palmer, seeking to avoid a traffic stop in Oregon, slipped across the Snake River – only to find himself on the receiving end of a midnight SWAT raid.

The Payette Police received an anonymous tip that Palmer had rented a room in a local motel and that he might have a gun.  Rather than staking out the facility and waiting to arrest the less-than-menacing fugitive in a low-key fashion, the SWAT team was deployed.
A spotlight was directed into Palmer’s room, and a PA system was used to order Palmer to surrender. When Palmer declined to do so, the SWAT team stormed the room and took him into custody without other violence. Although Palmer was unarmed a rifle and a single box of ammunition was found in his vehicle. 

This is a case in which Mayberry-level misconduct provoked a Fallujah-style response. Although it may seem trivial to statist scribes like Ehlert, overkill of this kind is abusive, commonplace, and representative of the gratuitous militarization of routine warrant service that results from the “use it or lose it” provision of the 1033 program. 

Ehlert and the newspaper that employs him were directly implicated in at least one criminal abuse of power by Sheriff Raney – the exploitation of legally protected personal information in an FBI file to retaliate against one of the sheriff’s political rivals, former State Rep. Mark Patterson. 

In early 2013, Rep. Patterson proposed legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for an Idaho peace officer to enforce federal gun confiscation measures. Raney, as head of the Idaho Sheriffs Association, opposed that bill, warning legislators that it would imperil federal agreements permitting police and sheriffs to conduct “asset forfeiture” operations.

After the measure was defeated, Patterson sent a letter to  Raney demanding information on the sheriff’s potentially illegal lobbying efforts against a gun rights bill he opposed. The following day Raney sent notice to Patterson announcing the revocation of his concealed weapon license, claiming that Patterson had lied on his application by failing to disclose a withheld judgment on a felony charge nearly 40 years ago.

The news of the CWL revocation, along with privileged information from Patterson’s NCIC background check, were leaked to Dan Popkey, who at the time was a reporter at the Statesman. (He has since been hired as a press spokesman, ironically, by Rep. Labrador.) Both the retaliatory use of the FBI information, and its provision to the Statesman, were criminal acts committed either by Raney or someone in his office. (I have previously examined this story in greater detail.) 
Playtime for the privileged: BSU coaches get their SWAT freak on.
A withheld judgment is not a conviction, and once a term of probation ends the charge is expunged from the individual’s criminal record (although a residual record is still available through the NCIC system). An Idaho resident subject to a withheld judgment who applies for a CWL is eligible to receive one, and is not legally required to disclose the matter in any case. This was made clear by the Idaho Attorney General’s office in response to an inquiry by State Rep. Judy Boyle. Sheriff Raney reacted to Boyle’s inquiry by filing a spurious ethics complaint against her and publicly accusing her of criminal behavior.

This criminal misuse of protected information in a federal database to carry out an East German-style act of political retaliation revealed that Raney has the disposition of a commissar, which amply justifies public misgivings about allowing him to have access to Pentagon-provided war-fighting equipment. This conclusion is buttressed by a less grievous – but, in a way, more aggravating – abuse that took place earlier this year.

In late August, the Boise State University football team proudly released a video showing its coaching staff participating in a “team-building exercise” with the Ada County SWAT team. 

The clip depicted Coach Bryan Harsin (who, as the beneficiary of a five-year, $7.5 million contract, is the highest-paid employee of the Idaho state government) and his staff being ferried to a training site in an armored vehicle, followed by simulated gunfire and flash-bang explosions.

Granted, no injuries resulted from that episode, apart from the routine plunder involved in all government operations. This little cosplay exercise underscores the fact that SWAT operators see their presents from the Pentagon as toys, rather than tools – and they should be taken away before more innocent people get hurt. 

                                                         Update: As if to prove my point...

... Ada Metro SWAT carried out a raid at a yard sale in Meridian on September 22.


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