Odessa Police Department may investigate local news agency’s website posters

Posted on December 30th, 2008 by bile
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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.

Here is the story they are referring to.

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.

Update on KopBusters: first trailer

Posted on December 30th, 2008 by bile
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An anonymous tipster appeared to be harrying cops.

It sounded like the plot of the latest TV pseudo-thriller: a rogue cop, a woman scorned, a helpless father, a drug grower, a small town pastor and police that play fast and loose with the constitution, all colliding after an anonymous letter tipped off police to an alleged marijuana farm in a Texas town.

Barry Cooper, a 39-year-old former drug cop turned filmmaker, said that short, poorly written and unattributed letter was the key that tied together motley crew of characters in his latest documentary. A preview of that documentary, a reality show Cooper has dubbed “KopBusters,” is available exclusively from RAW STORY at the bottom of this page.

“I’m leaving Odessa because my boyfriend is out of control,” an anonymous female allegedly wrote to the Odessa police on Dec. 3. “I can’t talk to the police because I have traffic warrants.”

The mysterious tipster claimed 80 marijuana plants were nearing harvest at a small house in the west Texas town, and that officers only had a few days to nab the culprit.

“He does not know I’m telling and thinks I don’t know about him cheating on me,” she continued. “He has been growing pot for a long time and never get caught and he is getting sloppy.”

Based on the tip, police conducted surveillance on the house and determined several of the general statements about the property to be factual.

Within 12 hours, Judge Bill McCoy of the 258th District Court had signed a search warrant based upon the letter and the police department’s periphery follow-up, and the raid was on.

Little did the officers know, inside the house, the flora bathed beneath bright, heat-emitting grow lights wasn’t marijuana but, instead, miniature Christmas trees.

As officers invaded with guns drawn, it quickly became apparent they’d been had. A handwritten poster proclaimed they had just become part of Cooper’s new reality show, ‘KopBusters.’

And bust the cops, he did. According to the Odessa American, Terry Pierce, who also works as an associate police chaplain, denies giving the officers any letter.

However, on Monday the American reported that the local police made a mistake filling out the affidavit. Instead of the police chaplain, First United Pentacostal Church pastor Terry Pugh delivered the letter. Odessa City Manager Richard Morton insisted it was a simple mistake: the letter was allegedly given to officers with “Pastor Terry” written on an open envelope.

“Someone played on my sentiments,” Pugh told the American. “Had I known that, I would have never been involved in it. I thought I was helping the police catch bad guys.”

“It wasn’t just this erroneous affidavit, but also the judge granted a bad warrant based solely on an anonymous tip,” said Cooper. “The Supreme Court has said an anonymous tip is not enough. Maybe we should make a new show called ‘JudgeBusters.’”

Cooper originally planned his first sting for an undisclosed location in Washington state. But after being contacted by Odessa resident Raymond Madden, whose daughter Yolanda was arrested in 2005 for possessing methamphetamine, ‘KopBusters’ shifted course.

“The police got the wrong person,” claims Yolanda’s father on the ‘KopBusters’ trailer. “They thought she was someone else. Once they made the bust, they had to go through with it. You can’t say, ‘Oh, excuse me, we planted drugs.’”

A man who answered the telephone at the Odessa police department declined comment.

The sting was designed, Cooper said, to embarrass the cops that arrested Yolonda, and to put a public face on police neglect of the Fourth Amendment.

Of course, it likely crossed Cooper’s mind that several of his former partners are cops in Odessa. Or that his former narcotics task force was once based there. But the way he describes it, revenge is not atop his list. To Cooper, ‘KopBusters’ is almost a humanitarian mission.

“Free Yolanda!” he yells in the footage. “Ya’ll planted drugs on Yolanda, and we’re gonna get her released and get the crooked cops busted. If you’re a good cop, great. But you’re not. You raided my house, and nothing’s going on.”

The American quoted Cooper saying he believes the police “[got] together to make up this f—ing letter.” Thermal imaging cameras, he claimed to RAW STORY, were used to seek out heat from the grow lamps inside his rented house: an investigatory technique the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional, but is still frequently used, especially in aerial observation.

“What I’m telling people is that anyone could have sent that letter,” he said. “Anyone who gets pissed off at someone else could have dropped a letter in the offering basket at church, or sent an anonymous tip to police. That’s the point of the court’s logic: to prevent people from triggering false raids.”

RAW STORY pressed him on the letter’s origin, but Cooper stuck to his story.

“No, really, that’s all I’m saying about the letter,” he insisted. “Anybody could have written it. It doesn’t matter who it came from. An anonymous tip is not enough to raid a home.”

And while Cooper may be the most obvious suspected source of the letter, there’s no evidence thus far to tie him to it; a good thing for him, because a false crime report is itself a crime.

Naturally, the Odessa police department is looking into pressing charges. Likewise, Cooper said he plans to file a $10 million federal lawsuit. Both remain to be seen.

Another sting, he boasted, is coming very soon. “I could do it as quickly as 30 days.”

‘KopBusters: Vol. 1′ is set for release in July.

“Kop Busters” in Odessa, TX

Posted on December 5th, 2008 by bile
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Odessa, Texas – They didn’t find any drugs; instead they found a poster telling them they were on a reality show called “kop busters.”

It’s an online reality show that goes around the nation exposing what they say is police corruption. The reason they came to Odessa is because they were asked to by a man who says his daughter is falsely imprisoned.

Video cameras, plants masquerading, as drugs, and a message are what police found while serving a search warrant today.

Barry Cooper CEO of Kop Busters.com said: “The best equipment known to man is what Cop Busters has and we’re going to continue going across America busting these cops.”

The reality show team out of Austin has been setting up the fake drug den for 6 months, going through painstaking methods to keep it a secret.

“We had to use encrypted emails, we had to use Wal-Mart blowup cell phones in case our phones were tapped,” said Cooper.

But why all the trouble? “Get Yolanda Madden out of prison,” said Cooper.

In 2005, Odessa woman Yolanda Madden was convicted of the possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. Now she’s serving a 7-year prison sentence.

“I could prove absolutely without a doubt she’s innocent,” said Raymond Madden

Her father says he’s been trying to get a court to retry the case since the conviction.

“We had a witness that planted the drugs he testified in court that he planted the drugs,” said Madden.

Cop Busters says the show exists to help fix the system.

Odessa police say the matter is still under investigation and at this point they are looking to see if any laws were broken.

Barry was really weak on the question at the end.

Also some info at CBS 7′s site and there is a thread about it over at the Free Keene forum.