A police investigation on a fake marijuana grow house may lead to the Odessa American’s website, Odessa Police Lt. Jesse Duarte and Chief Tim Burton suggested.
Duarte said OPD wants to identify posters responding to two previous stories on the raid to see if they can figure out who wrote an anonymous letter alleging a Lotteman Drive house had marijuana growing in it. He said he “couldn’t rule out” the possibility that Kopbusters wrote the letter.
“They’re denying that they wrote the letter, but we have earlier blogs that show that,” Duarte said.
Duarte was one of the investigators involved in the Dec. 4 raid at 232 Lotteman Drive. Duarte and other officers suspected it was a grow house, but when they entered the home they instead found Christmas trees under grow lights and a poster telling them they were being filmed by Kopbusters for a reality TV show.
Kopbusters, according to CEO Barry Cooper, is a new reality TV show that has not yet been available for broadcast but has set out do what they call reverse stings on corrupt narcotics investigators.
Duarte was also involved in the arrest of Yolanda Madden, who Kopbusters claim was framed by police and a police informant who they say planted meth on her. She was convicted of possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a park and is serving time in a Bryan federal prison camp.
Duarte said the OPD’s interest in cyber-sleuthing comes from a since-edited post at Kopbusters’ site, nevergetbusted.com, that Duarte said claimed Kopbusters wrote the letter.
Duarte contacted the Odessa American Tuesday to ask how to get the identities of posters on the OA site at oaoa.com.
“We’re following an investigation, and I needed to know some particulars about how your site was set up,” Duarte said.
He didn’t specify any particular screen names he wanted to look up, but he mentioned Kopbusters CEO Barry Cooper and “everyone that is responding” to the two stories.
Neither Duarte, Burton or anyone at the OPD issued a search warrant in connection with the OA website. Burton said however that the site’s posters could be involved in their investigation.
“It (the interest and possible investigation into the OA website) was initiated based upon the events that took place at 232 Lotteman,” Burton said.
Odessa American Editor Laura Dennis said the OA will not release confidential records that indicate e-mail addresses or other information from posters who have registered on the paper’s website to the OPD or anyone else.
“We tell website users that their information is confidential and that it will not be sold or given out. We will stand by that,” Dennis said.
Attorney John Bussian is a First Amendment specialist and is a Freedom Communications attorney. Freedom is the parent company of the Odessa American. Bussian said Tuesday that Freedom recently successfully resisted a subpoena in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., by law enforcement asking the paper to reveal confidential data given to the paper by users who had registered on the paper’s website.
“We have just resisted efforts by law enforcement officers to make the press reveal confidential data provided to us by those posting comments on our websites,” Bussian said. “This is not obstructing justice it is simply asking law enforcement to make the press witnesses of last resort and to demonstrate the things required by the First Amendment before forcing us to reveal these posters,” Bussian said.
Bussian said information given to the OA on the website is confidential.
Yolanda Madden’s father, Raymond Madden, who was in Austin Tuesday, said in a phone interview that he expected the police to want to look into the newspaper’s website. He didn’t seem to be bothered by the prospects.
“They would love to get me,” Madden said. “I mean these guys are desperate.”
Madden hired Kopbusters to help him prove that the OPD framed his daughter. Both Raymond Madden and Kopbusters CEO Cooper claim the OPD raid on the suspected grow house in Odessa proves that the OPD plays fast and loose with the rules because they relied on an anonymous letter to help secure a search warrant.
OPD officials, however, disagree and say that the warrant was legally obtained.
Note the poll on the right.
Barry Cooper called into Free Talk Live Tuesday the 30th, 2008. I’ll post the audio if Ian Bernard posts it tomorrow. Barry has said that the F-bombs in the linked article were fabricated. He apparently told off the reporter after the interview due to him being misrepresented. The reporter reportedly works with the cops.