Cops sold seized marijuana on the black market and veiled the money laundered with real estate deals, a lawsuit alleges.
A Texas man has filed a federal lawsuit against police officers alleging they are part of a conspiracy that posed as federal agents and sold marijuana on the black market. Ezekiel Flatten in his lawsuit said police officers seized several pounds of legal marijuana from his car after stopping him on a California highway nearly a year ago.
The officers’ suspicious behavior lead Flatten to go public with his story which then lead to the eventual allegation of a massive police corruption scandal involving money laundering, the illegal seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of pounds of marijuana, and ties to a criminal network called Black Asphalt.
Flatten Said Cops Stole Marijuana and Cash
On Dec. 5, 2017, Flatten said two officers in a black, unmarked SUV stopped him on a Northern California highway. They searched his car and seized three pounds of cannabis he was taking for lab testing, state-sanctioned marijuana he possessed legally. The men claimed they were from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an agency that regards all marijuana as illegal under federal law.
The two men were Joseph Huffaker, a police officer from Rohnert Park, and Steve Hobb, a former police chief from the Hopland band of Pomo Indians.
Both men told Flatten that marijuana was “taking over California” and he might get a letter from Washington pursuant to the cannabis they seized from his car, but he never did. Suspicious, Flatten noted that the men did not arrest him, cite him or even document the cannabis they seized from his car.
Represented by John Houston Scott in San Francisco, Flatten stated in his lawsuit that both Huffaker and Hobb were part of a conspiracy, involving former Rohnert Park police officer Jacy Tatum. The lawsuit alleges the officers seized thousands of pounds of marijuana and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from people while posing as federal agents. The ring did not arrest the people, report crimes or issues receipts for seized goods.
A Widespread Conspiracy and Money Laundering
According to Flatten, in a few cases where the officers made arrests or filed reports, the cash or marijuana remitted to the authorities was under-reported so the ring could make money from the difference. He alleged that the rogue officers made use of Black Asphalt, a private criminal intelligence network, to identify and locate vehicles of people with active involvement in the cannabis sector.
“Oftentimes when arrests or reports were made, the cash and cannabis seized was significantly underreported in furtherance of the conspiracy allowing the officers to skim off the top of even otherwise legal interdictions,” the lawsuit states.
The cops sold seized marijuana on the black market and veiled the money laundered with real estate deals, the lawsuit said.
After Flatten went public with his story, an internal probe was initiated and Tatum resigned, while Huffaker was put on administrative leave. Huffaker, Tatum and Hobb are not the only defendants in the lawsuit, the city of Rohnert Park and the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians are also cited.
Flatten said he has been harassed and intimidated since he broke the story of his ordeal with the police. In September he found a GPS tracking device hardwired underneath his car’s dashboard and he received an anonymous message via social media warning he was playing with fire.
In the lawsuit, Flatten is asking that police be prevented from stealing lawful cannabis from people, and from harassing him for publicizing his story. He also demands that the legal weed seized from his vehicle be returned to him.