Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jul 2008
Source: Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
Copyright: 2008 Wausau Daily Herald
Author: Kevin Murphy
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


MADISON -- Was an Arpin man growing cranberries or

A jury may have to decide whether Allen L. Oleson will lose his house,
valued at $87,500, in a civil forfeiture lawsuit filed in federal
court after a authorities found what they said is a marijuana-growing
operation in his town of Hansen residence.

According to documents filed in court:

A first-floor room with black paper covering the windows, heavy duty
grow lights, a plant watering system, a heat fan, fertilizer,
cardboard pots, plus 28 ounces of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and
marijuana stalks were found when Central Wisconsin Drug Taskforce
members executed a Dec. 9, 2005, search of Oleson's 7199 Grant Rd.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman filed the forfeiture action
against Oleson in December 2005 as federal law allows the government
to seize assets used in commission of drug crimes. While that suit has
stalled in federal court, Oleson plead no contest in March 2007 in
Wood County Circuit Court to maintaining a drug house and possession
of THC. He was placed on five years probation with 60 days in jail.

Efforts to contact Oleson and his about-to-be-discharged attorney Greg
Dutch were unsuccessful.

Oleson has vigorously contested the seizure of his house. In an
affidavit, Oleson admits to smoking marijuana but denies that his
house was used to grow marijuana in quantities that would make it
subject to seizure under federal law.

Oleson insists items authorities claim were used to cultivate
marijuana were used to grow "cranberry tissue culture." He also used
those items to start plants he would later replant outdoors.

In her response, Altman wrote while his grow lights and other items
could be put to legitimate use, when looked at in "totality ... the
evidence can only lead to one conclusion -- the defendant property was
used to commit or to facilitate the commission of a violation of
(federal law)."

The now 2 1/2-year-old forfeiture case has been stalled by District
Judge Barbara Crabb's refusal to appoint Oleson an attorney. Oleson is
ready to dismiss Dutch and has asked Crabb to grant his request as
communication "has completely broken down" between them.

A trial is set for February 2010. 
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