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Jackson County Mississippi Cover-upEric Salerno Salem-News.com
This story is the epitome of what is wrong with our drug laws and justice system.
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Dr. David Allen is a cardiovascular surgeon who had spent his entire career saving the lives of people in his community. He's hardly the man you would expect to be framed by a corrupt narcotics squad and rogue sheriff, but that is exactly what happened in this story.
Born David Bruce Allen from St. Louis, Missouri. He actively was practicing medicine in Pascagoula from 1994 to 2007 at a clinic on Hospital Street, and was regularly performing life saving heart surgeries at Singing River Hospital.
Dr. Allen's hands had held the hearts, and saved the lives of countless Pascagoula residents. For over a decade he was held as a renowned surgeon, who had saved hundreds of lives during his 13 years of service to the community.
In October 2008 he began work in the Sacramento area at various clinics. In early 2009, he decided to open a legal medicinal marijuana clinic. He was well received by the community and his new practice flourished. That was until the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County Mississippi headed by Lt. Curtis Spiers descended.
In what can only be described as a "setup raid" on February 19th 2009, the Task Force claimed they had seized marijuana and hashish. As proof they presented doctored photos from the internet, and claimed they had evidence against the former heart surgeon.
The charges where one of each, for cultivation, possession of marijuana, as well as a charge for sale of hashish. The motive behind the cover-up, Dr. Allen's 40-acre estate which he owned in Escatawpa, known by locals as the Blue Hole because of a large body of water which is located on the property.
The agents indicted Dr. Allen while he was in California on the trumped up charges, and extradited him in a passenger van for a week across state lines. The officers transporting him were not officers at all, but instead a private security firm with contracts to transport the accused.
Cruel and unusual punishment was perpetrated while the transport was happening. They refused to allow timely bathroom breaks, water breaks, or even the human decency to roll down a window for air. The transport agents' verbal assaults became a normality along the way.
The combination of false accusations and the torture endured on the trip to a Mississippi jail, was almost too much for this accomplished surgeon.
Dr. Allen stated in a media interview in February 2012 by Eapen Thampyhe with www.forfeiturereform.com:
This was not the end but just the beginning of the nightmare. Now, the former heart surgeon was just another inmate at the George County Regional Correction Facility, waiting for his day in court.
Unjustly accused with a total of six felony crimes; three marijuana offenses, and three witness-tampering charges, if convicted, he would face more than 50 years in prison.
Meanwhile back in California, the whole medical marijuana community was shocked and outraged by the false accusations and trumped up criminal charges. Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center spearheaded a letter writing campaign and gave free medicine to the patients who wrote to Dr. Allen. Blogs and websites were full of people wanting Dr. Allen freed immediately.
I was first told about Dr. Allen while in Sacramento with Sioux Colombe an ambassador with Americans for Safe Access. She had personally worked for Dr. Allen and was doing everything in her power to free him. Listening to her tell the tragic story, I could not help but become involved.
After much legal wrangling and some charges being dropped for lack of evidence, Dr. Allen went on trial in February, accused of one count of manufacturing a controlled substance, and another charge of transporting a controlled substance, but Judge Robert Krebs declared a mistrial and dismissed the case after jurors reported being deadlocked. In the Judges address he stated:
When it was the district attorney's chance to speak in the motion to dismiss, state prosecutors said they do not feel there would be evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict Dr. Allen.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said that he was "not happy one bit" about the dismissal of charges. Sheriff Byrd went on to claim "Law enforcement did their job," and declined further comment.
Dr. Allen also maintains that the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department never found marijuana on his land. In a statement he issued Dr. Allen proclaimed his innocence;
In December, Circuit Court Judge Kathy King Jackson signed an order allowing Dr. Allen to keep his property at the 13000 block of Miss. 613, that had been seized during the investigation.
Today Dr.Allen is free and practicing medicine again.
He resides in the Sacramento area and often goes to speak at Sacramento City Council Chambers, and in surrounding counties during public comment at Supervisor's Meetings. He is a strong voice at rallies, and attends court support regularly for those who are fighting against the unjust system. Dr. Allen is loved by all and has the respect of the entire community for all he has accomplished against what seemed to be impossible odds.
In a twist of fate, this past week of February 2013 almost four years later, Dr. Allen's attorney Michael Crosby filed a civil suit in Jackson County court. The lawsuit is for the life altering damages Dr. Allen sustained during his lengthy court struggle.
This story is the epitome of what is wrong with our drug laws and justice system. When a Doctor, one of the most trusted members of our society is persecuted like this, where does that leave the average citizen? We must all push for change in our day to day lives, if you use cannabis you can no longer sit idle, that will not suffice.
Be Well, Eric L. Salerno
Eric Salerno is a Salem-News.com writer from Butte County, California. His background is with State and Federal Agencies assisting in recovery efforts in disaster stricken states.
In 2008 he began advocating for medical marijuana in his home state. This journey began after the supervisors in his district of Butte County enacted a moratorium on legal Prop. 215 patients rights to access and grow their own medicine. He was one of only 10 people to show up at the meeting and voice his concerns with their actions.
That year a coalition of mores than 300 residents was formed and a Vote NO on measure A campaign began. These residents of Butte County united to stop the interference of the county.
This campaign was successful with a large voter drive initiative and media campaign securing 55% of the voters saying NO on measure A.
Today Eric works endlessly from Southern California to Northern California advising and implementing political tactics, to ensure every Californian has the right to access legal safe medicine under the law.
You can write to Eric at this address: Ericsalerno@sbcglobal.net
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