Thursday, December 25, 2003

Marijuana convictions of six Hispanic men are set aside, TBI agent on the case was dealing, using cocaine

Criminal Court Judge Randall Wyatt "set aside a 15-year-sentence for each of the defendants, who had been ordered to serve their entire sentence because they were arrested within 1,000 feet of a school zone."

"To support his habit, [T.B.I. agent Patrick] Howell later admitted to stealing cocaine from investigations he was involved in. [Attorney for one of the defendants Jerry] Gonzalez points out that if he had the cocaine on him while he was working at the old T.B.I. building in South Nashville, he would have been in possession of a drug within 1,000 feet of Tennessee Preparatory School. And we already know he had been distributing cocaine as well. So why wasn't he prosecuted under the same statute used against the Hispanic defendants? In fact, all Howell got after pleading guilty to two counts of tampering with evidence was three years probation.

"'What this says,' Gonzales charges, 'is that the district attorney's office will prosecute Hispanics who come within 1,000 feet of a school but not the law enforcement officers who likewise have drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.'"

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