Butler County Times Gazette
  • Documents: Evidence flimsy in suburban drug raid

  • A Kansas couple who waited a year to find out why sheriff's deputies raided their home in search of drugs said they're relieved to finally have answers but disturbed that agents targeted their home based on what they called flimsy evidence.
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  • A Kansas couple who waited a year to find out why sheriff's deputies raided their home in search of drugs said they're relieved to finally have answers but disturbed that agents targeted their home based on what they called flimsy evidence.
    The Leawood home of Robert and Adlynn Harte was one of 10 homes raided on April 20, 2012, a date celebrated by some as a marijuana holiday, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/ZACQ0H ).
    During the raid, Robert Harte was forced to lie shirtless on the foyer floor while a deputy with an assault rifle stood over him, according to a lawsuit filed by the Hartes. Their children, a 7-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy, were home and were terrified by the raid, the couple said.
    The couple wasn't charged, and they sued for records after the Johnson County Sheriff's Office refused to tell them why deputies raided their home. The records were released last week, and the Hartes are glad that friends and neighbors in their upscale subdivision know deputies had no evidence against them.
    "On the one hand, it's a bit of a relief to know we are not crazy, to know what actually went on," said Adlynn Harte, an attorney. "But then it is disheartening. We put our faith in law enforcement to do good police work, and we had to suffer through this for the last year."
    According to the records, a law enforcement officer saw Robert Harte and his two children visit a Kansas City, Mo., hydroponics store in August 2011. In March 2012, a Missouri State Highway Patrol sergeant told Johnson County deputies he had a record of Harte's vehicle being spotted at the store.
    A deputy later used that visit in the affidavit seeking the search warrant, saying hydroponic equipment is commonly used to grow marijuana. The Hartes said they bought the equipment to grow indoor tomatoes.
    Deputies then searched the Hartes' trash and found about a cup of a leafy green substance they believed to be marijuana in two trash bags. The deputies conducted a field test of the material and it tested positive for marijuana.
    That prompted the April raid, during which nothing incriminating was found at the home.
    A lab test conducted 10 days after the raid, and another four months later, found that the leafy material was not marijuana, according to the documents.
    "It does not look anything like marijuana leaves or stems," a lab report said.
    The Hartes think the green leafy plant material was tea, which Mrs. Harte brews every day.
    Lawrence L. Ferree III, a private attorney representing the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, said there would be no comment on the case because of potential litigation.
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