Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jun 2008
Source: Hendersonville Times-News (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Hendersonville Newspaper Corporation
Author: John Harber, Times-News Staff Writer


An attorney for a Polk County man who advocates marijuana for
medicinal purposes has filed motions in his criminal case that say the
Polk County Sheriff's Office used false information to obtain a search

Steve Marlowe, 59, of Mill Spring was arrested in November 2007 and
charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a vehicle
or dwelling for the use or sale of marijuana and manufacturing marijuana.

Marlowe's attorney, Ben Scales of Asheville, has filed motions that
claim the Polk County Sheriff's Office forced an informant to give
investigators information to obtain a search warrant.

The motions are slated to be heard Monday in Polk County Superior
Court. "The search warrant was executed by the Polk County Sheriff's
Department on November 13, 2007," Scales said in his motion. "The
warrant was issued upon information contained in the affidavit of Lt.
Matt Prince, which in turn is based upon a statement by a formerly
confidential informant named Charles Grady Shehan Jr."

According to the search warrant, Lt. Prince relied on statements made
by Shehan.

"Mr. Shehan, it is alleged, visited the defendant's (Marlowe)
residence just prior to the issuance of the warrant and saw marijuana
plants growing and other contraband therein," Scales said in his
motion. "(Mr. Marlowe) will show that by Shehan's own admission, he
was never inside the defendant's residence, and had not been inside
that dwelling in at least eight years, but that he was induced by Lt.
Trent Carswell and Prince and others to make and sign a false
statement that he had seen illegal activity occurring in the
defendant's residence."

On Feb. 18, 2008, Shehan called Marlowe and spoke with him for the
first time in a number of years, according to the motion.

"In the conversation, Shehan told the defendant that the sheriff's
deputies were pressuring him to testify against Marlowe before the
grand jury, but that he was refusing, because the deputies were asking
him to lie," Scales said in the court documents. "Shehan told the
defendant that the deputies were threatening him and harassing him on
a near daily basis, and he asked Marlowe if he could help end the

Shortly after Shehan and Marlowe talked, Marlowe's ex-wife, Jean,
contacted Shehan and asked him to repeat the same story he told Mr.
Marlowe on videotape.

"In his video statement, Shehan unequivocally makes clear that the
statements he gave to the deputies upon which the search warrants were
based were not true," Scales said.

Scales said in his motion that he cannot understand why the Sheriff's
Office would force Shehan to make false statements.

"One such guess is that the Sheriff harbors a personal animus against
the defendant and Jean Marlowe, because of the Marlowes' activism on
the issues related to access to cannabis as medicine, which dates back
to at least 1994," Scales said. "Another potential reason is the
Sheriff's own embarrassing personal legal difficulties as he faces
trial for sexual offenses. Yet another reason could be that the
Sheriff's legal problems have allowed a rouge element to develop
within the Sheriff's department who feel emboldened to act on their on
personal vendettas."

Scales was referring to Polk County Sheriff Chris Abril's arrest on
Aug. 28, 2006, and being charged with five counts of first-degree
statutory rape and one count of first-degree sexual offense. The
alleged sexual assaults involved girls who were 10 and 12 years old
when the offenses are alleged to have happened, in 1988 and 1989.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office directed all questions about the
Marlowe case to the District Attorney's Office on Monday.

Calls made to the District Attorney were not returned

"When I first got busted I talked to Sheriff Abril and he told me not
to worry about it," Marlowe said in a telephone interview Monday. "I
just hope when this goes to court the truth comes out."

Marlowe described Shehan as someone he knew, but not very

"He's just someone I would see around town from time to time," Marlowe

In their affidavit, Carswell and Prince said they had been
investigating two residences in Polk County since the beginning of

"Through a confidential reliable informant we have knowledge and
belief that there is a substantial amount of marijuana at the
residence of Max Bailey," the deputies said in their affidavit. "There
is also knowledge of marijuana being manufactured at the residence of
Steve Marlowe. The informant went inside the residence and saw a room
full of marijuana plant's being grown."

In his statement Shehan said that on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007, Jennifer
Bailey picked him up around 11:30 a.m. and they went to Steve
Marlowe's house.

"Steve then asked if we wanted some good stuff, and he proceeded to a
grow room and picked a bud of a plant," Shehan said in his statement
to the deputies. "Steve then put some in the pipe and smoked it. I saw
two pounds of marijuana sitting on the bar, along with a set of triple
beam scales."

Scales declined to comment about the case, stating that the motion
spoke for itself. 
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