Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Havre Drug Dealers Moonlight as State Employees
It was disheartening to hear of the drug related arrests of two people entrusted with overseeing and working with Havre youth. Lanie Fitzpatrick and her sister Melissa were arrested last Thursday around 7pm in the evening and were charged with numerous felony drug charges. Lanie is employed by the Child and Family Services which is overseen by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHS) which coincidently is the same DPHS that oversees medical marijuana grow operations. Melissa is employed as a juvenile probation officer. Now isn’t this a kick in the pants to those parents that have had dealings with these two through our local court system. The very people you are supposed to trust to help with youth in need of assistance are they themselves breaking the very same laws that brought many of their caseload people to their door in the first place. Could there be a better way of gaining new “clients” than having a list of every troubled youth in Hill County that has had brushes with the law over drug use? Would this also violate the confidentiality provision of the medical marijuana laws? What about the intimate personal knowledge of their clients because of the Fitzpatrick’s employment? This is a better set-up than using an e-mail spam list to obtain customers.
Furthermore, the arrest took place at one of their grow operations in the 900 block of third street less than one block from an elementary school and ironically less than one block from Dustin Malley’s grow operation that we have reported on previously. One of the witnesses to the arrest said that Drug Task Force agent Pete Federspiel spent upwards of three and one-half hours searching through the operation after the two criminals were hauled off to the jail. It does seem a little odd considering the charges that these two were able to be released on their own recognizance not even 24 hours after their initial arrest. Do other drug felons get this same consideration?
While operating a medical marijuana facility is legal under Montana law it would seem that this is yet another example of countless operations that have no regard for the limits currently in place under Montana law. The search revealed records showing the Fitzpatricks were keeping 7 to 10 pounds of marijuana on hand each week which is well over the legal limit. The Fitzpatricks were nabbed selling quantities of marijuana that were over 4 times the legal limit, they routinely bought pot from illegal sources to supplement the shortfalls in production at their operation, and they were selling their product on the street as common drug dealers rather than the “professional caregivers” they were claiming to be. It was also reported in the Havre Daily News that the Task Force agents seized over $27,000 in cash during the bust. Not a bad weeks extra income for two 30 something young ladies. While the Task force did search their second operation in the vicinity of the Havre Skate Park it has been reported to the Corrector that the agents left the plants that these two were legally allowed under current Montana law.
It would seem to us that there are many problems that need to be rectified with the current medical marijuana laws. First, both of these operations are in locations where young children congregate. Second, is it really appropriate that state employees that work with youth are even allowed to obtain a grow license and still maintain their State of Montana employment? Do the parents of the youth served by these two now have grounds for a liability suit against the State of Montana and you the taxpayer? Do any of our readers actually think any income tax was being paid on the sale of this marijuana? Most legitimate businesses deposit their receipts daily and keep records for the IRS.
The Fitzpatricks were reportedly operating under the name of Ganja Gardens which when searched on Google reveals a state wide network of linked operations throughout Montana. We would like to know if this operation was registered with the City of Havre as was required as per the moratorium.
Lastly, this arrest took place on Thursday yet nothing was reported in the HDN until the next Tuesday. Why was that? We received a report from one of our tipsters on Monday wondering why this didn’t make the news but since we have been berated heavily on this blog for “not knowing all the facts” we held up the post to try and verify some of the information. We would like to publically apologize to our tipster for just not running with their information right away. We are dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t.
Here is a related article from the HDN.
Article from the GF Tribune here