Plea Deal Rejected, Trial Pending for Owners of Phat Stuff

by James Cleaveland
01 Nov 2015

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) raid on local Keene smoke shop Phat Stuff in May 2014 resulted in a criminal indictment against Phat Stuff Masked_Man_Uhaulowners Panos and Katie Eliopoulos in February 2015 for Conspiracy to Offer Drug Paraphernalia for Sale (21 USC 846 and 21 USC 863) and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering (18 USC 1956).  In a motion filed on October 5, 2015, it was revealed federal prosecutors had offered Panos a deal where he would plead guilty to some lesser charge in exchange for the government dropping the case against his wife Katie.  Although Panos initially accepted the deal, he has since changed his mind and the beleaguered Keene business owners will be going to trial on January 20, 2016 at the federal courthouse in Concord.

Contrary to what was implied in the media, Phat Stuff and its owners were not criminally charged with selling synthetic cannabinoids or any other controlled substance.  In the companion civil asset forfeiture case for Phat Stuff,  USA v. $695.00 US Currency et al, the complaint alleges that on August 9, 2013 an undercover informant for the DEA purchased the synthetic cannabinoid known as PB-22 from the Keene store.  The sale of PB-22 was not made illegal by the DEA until February 10, 2014 when the agency placed the compound on Schedule I by administrative order.  Phat Stuff stopped selling PB-22 prior to September 27, 2013 to comply with a Keene city ordinance forbidding its sale.  Since the constitution specifically forbids ex post facto laws, Phat Stuff and its owners could not be prosecuted for the sale and distribution of a controlled substance.  That left the government with the charges of selling drug paraphernalia, conspiracy, and money laundering.

Under federal law 21 USC 863, “drug paraphernalia” is defined as:

“…  any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance, possession of which is unlawful …”

A tobacco “water pipe” and a marijuana “bong” are physically the same item and differ only in their intended use.  Selling a water pipe is legal; selling a bong is not.  To convict under 21 USC 863, the Government must show that the defendants personally sold, offered for sale, or made something that they should have reasonably known would be used in some way with illegal drugs.  There are several allegations the defense will have to explain:

  1. On September 23, 2013, a Phat Stuff employee sold a glass pipe to a DEA informant who claimed he needed a replacement “because the police took his.” (Oops!)
  2. On April 17, 2014, a Phat Stuff employee sold a glass pipe and a drug detox kit to an undercover police officer. (Double oops!)
  3. On April 17, 2014, a Phat Stuff employee sold a chillum, pipe cleaner labeled “420”, and a safe disguised to look like a cigarette lighter to another undercover officer. (Really, super-duper oops!)

Setting aside the usual libertarian objections to the war on drugs, a jury of normal people (i.e. people educated in the government indoctrination camps that are public schools, where children are taught that drugs are wrong; that people who use and sell them should go to jshort536ba91e9c409.imagejail; and that jurors must obey the judge and find a defendant guilty of breaking the law, even if the juror believes the law is unjust) is going to conclude that Phat Stuff was selling drug paraphernalia.  I would bet money on it — except I will not because of my strong religious belief against going to prison for illegal gambling in New Hampshire.  So as a friendly reminder to all business owners, if somebody comes into your store and buys a can of soda because they are thirsty, that is fine.  If somebody comes into your store and buys a can of soda because they are thirsty, and the customer casually mentions that after drinking the soda they plan to smoke crack cocaine out of the empty can, you should refuse the sale unless you want to risk federal prison time.

The conspiracy law 21 USC 846 will also be used against Panos and Katie.  A conspiracy exists when:

  1. There is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime and
  2. There is at least one overt act in furtherance of that crime

Under the conspiracy laws, all parties are equally responsible for the whole crime.  So if your friend says to you “Hey, I didn’t report all my income on my tax return that I am about to file.  Can you drive me to the post office so I can mail it in?” you will be in big trouble if you let him put one foot into your car.  According to the federal government, your friend is committing several felonies (tax evasion, false statements on a tax return, and mail fraud for starters) and you knowingly agreed to help him by driving him to the post office, an act in furtherance of the conspiracy.  Congratulations, you will be found guilty of conspiracy to commit tax evasion, conspiracy to make false statements on a tax return, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and the conspiracy laws make you just as guilty as your friend.

The government will argue the Phat Stuff store employees knew or should have known they were selling drug paraphernalia.  That means the Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) can indict those employees.  You can be reasonably sure that in exchange for their “cooperation” the AUSA will grant them immunity from DEAchalknotwelcomeprosecution.  “Cooperation” in this case translates to “You better tell us what we want to hear, or else!”  With the employees’ freedom as a bargaining chip, the AUSA can get pretty much any witness to say anything desired.  The story the AUSA wants to hear is that Panos and Katie knew their pipes were being purchased by potheads and that the money from the sales were being deposited into the bank, which brings us to the more serious — and lucrative for the government — charge of money laundering.

Money laundering was a crime created by Congress to supposedly deal with Swiss bankers accepting large suitcases of cash from violent drug lords.  Since the bankers were not actually dealing drugs, the Department of Justice argued, a new law was needed to prosecute bankers who accepted drug money to deter them from doing business with kingpins.  Congress’s answer was the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, part of which is codified in 18 USC 1956.  The law states, among other things:

…  Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, conducts or attempts to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity … with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity … shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.”

The prosecution will argue that the sales from Phat Stuff are the proceeds of unlawful activity (sale of drug paraphernalia) and by depositing that money into their business checking account and paying the store’s bills, Panos and Katie intended to promote the further sale of drug paraphernalia.

deaphatstuffloading_truckMoney laundering is the toxic nuclear waste of financial crimes.  Any money tainted by “criminal activity” as defined by the government can be seized.  Anything that tainted money touches becomes tainted and can be seized.  Because Panos and Katie deposited the store’s sales into their TD business checking account, the government seized all of the money in the account.  Since some of that money was used to make payments on their Ford F250 truck, the government seized the truck.  Had they used the money to pay the mortgage on a home, the home would be seized.  In all, the government seized and will get to keep:  $15,209 in cash, a truck, and everything that was not nailed down in the store.  Thus a law that was passed to stop Swiss bankers and violent drug kingpins is now being used against two Keene business owners — all because they sold some glass pipes, a safe, and some cutely labeled cleaning product to the DEA.

The deck is stacked in the prosecution’s favor.  Jurors in federal court are prohibited from knowing about jury nullification or the potential sentence the defendants will get if they render a guilty verdict.  The federal rules of evidence are complicated and spending $50,000 or $100,000 to mount even a basic defense with a private lawyer is not unusual in federal court.  Defendants that fight and go to trial will face a longer prison sentence if they lose, which is almost 90 percent of the time with federal jury trials.  That is why over 90 percent of federal defendants plead guilty rather than fight.  If by some miracle the jury sees through the government’s case and acquits the defendants on all criminal charges, Panos and Katie will still be left with a huge legal bill.  Remember that compared to these two small business owners, the US Attorney’s Office has a practically unlimited budget to wage war thanks to the federal government’s ability to tax citizens through an army of people with guns.  Heads, the government wins and keeps the money; tails, the defendants win and the defense lawyers get to keep the money.  Either way, Panos and Katie lose.

Should the jury return a verdict of guilty, the US Marshals will be allowed to destroy all the glass pipes, bongs, etc. that were seized in the raid or they may be sold at government auction.  “Wait, how is it if Phat Stuff sells me a glass water pipe it constitutes conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia, but if the government sells me that exact same pipe, the one they seized from Phat Stuff, it does not constitute the sale of drug paraphernalia?”  The answer lies in the legal principle that government lawmakers and lawyers refer to as “Shut up, war on drugs, and do what we say or else!”  Basically this principle says that if Panos and Katie do not plead guilty and let the government keep their property, the Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) can file a superseding indictment with another dozen felony charges, thereby creating a real possibility of Panos and Katie spending decades in prison if convicted.  The United States Code (USC) is over 100,000 printed pages, so there are three felonies a day for each American in there somewhere, including those who sell glass water pipes in Keene.

I am sure that Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Davis, who is handling this case, would love to hear from you about how much you support her use of prosecutorial discretion and our tax dollars to try to put Panos and Katie in prison:

Jennifer C. Davis
Assistant U.S. Attorney
53 Pleasant Street, 4th Floor
Concord, N.H. 03301
(603) 225-1552

Please remember that Jennifer has powerful friends with guns and she can convene a grand jury to have you indicted, especially if you are a ham sandwich, so you might want to keep that in mind when contacting her.  Happy writing!

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Will Sniperfest Continue in 2015?

It has been one year since the 2014 Keene Pumpkin Festival and subsequent riot which spilled into the streets through the following morning. While snipers perched above the festivities for the second year in a row, no one was aware at the time that the riots would spell the end of PumpkinFest as a downtown Keene tradition. This saturday, the Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swanzey as well as the city of Laconia will be hosting their own independent Pumpkinfests. With few places to position snipers at the fairgrounds, unless special towers are brought in, there will likely not be such a militarized presence there. The situation in Laconia is more likely to host police with rifles, as also the organizer of previous Keene Pumpkinfests, ‘Let It Shine’ is also coordinating this year’s Laconia event. Snipers-New-Hampshire-Poster4172180532

In the time since last year’s chaos, I had since discovered two different articles hosted by the Blaze and Vocativ which feature content from facebook posts I had made that day. While I was unsure whether or not I had in fact captured an image of someone pointing a firearm in my direction, upon seeing the image as presented in the Vocativ piece, it appears to very clearly be a rifle aimed at the are where I was filming from (which was a heavily populated area at the time).

Laconia police are likely stocked up on riot gear as part of their preparation for the motorcycle weekend sponsored there each year. With luck, the relocated festival won’t deteriorate into a glass bottle war, and riot squads will not make an appearance.

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Robin Hood Case Goes Redux


Considerable time has passed since the city of Keene first filed a lawsuit against the meddlesome youths known as Robin Hooders. Following three days of testimonial hearings in October of 2013, a reunion party was hosted by the court for all initially involved, with three of six activists returning. Fine-tuning their excess to scale down the event significantly, the city would only present two witnesses, countered by two representing the defense, enabling what originally cost three days to wrap up within one.

The complications keeping the Robin Hood of Keene legal saga alive are as convoluted as the civil court system itself, which would have otherwise been unnavigable by the activists on defense if it were not for the appreciated representation by civil rights advocate attorney Jon Meyer. As the city’s attorneys began their case, Meyer declined to offer an opening statement, but instead asked if the city could clarify the specific demands it is seeking for “injunctive relief”.

Robert Dietel outlined that the CoK now requests no more than a ten foot “buffer zone” to float around parking enforcement officers. The request seemed modest compared to prior demands for 50, 30, and 20 feet of bureaucrat safety buffers. The tone of the day, echoing a sentiment expressed at the supreme court, seemed to be that the city’s attorneys would accept whatever “injunctive relief” they could be granted, anything to declare a small victory in what must be a loss of staggering proportions, both financially and politically.

Whether prior matters were capable of being addressed, city attorneys specified additionally that all testimony on the grounds for injunctive relief would be applicable only to events which occurred after October 2013, which was the conclusion of the similar hearing two years ago. Considering that all parties of the original suit are still named, one would have expected testimony to have suggested that all of the same characters were engaging in the same activities, but on the contrary, Keene’s parking enforcers stated that they have hardly, if ever, seen four of the six individuals named in the original suit since last appearing in court.

A good portion of the early testimony revolved around a video uploaded by Ian Freeman in which he and parking enforcer Lin loudly talk over each other as published to the internet from 2014. The distance Ian maintained from Lin was the focus of much speculation as the file was repeatedly played. While Lin described being annoyed by Ian on that occasion in the video, there was not any specific claims of offensiveness, wrongdoing, or even intentional antagonism by either of the parking enforcers against any of the individuals named in the suit. Parking enforcer Jane classified Garret as a ‘nuisance’ and daily stressor without specifying any instance of misbehavior during the span of relevant time. The enforcer recalled two instances which were cause for concern to her in recent memory. As she described each account, she went on to explain that neither instance involved anyone associated with Robin Hood of Keene. One involved a person she identified as J.P., the other was only described as an unidentified man. When asked if injunctive relief would satisfy the enforcers, they were reluctant to become enthused, and expressed an openly irrational disregard for the activist’s presence at any distance.

Part of the argument of the city is that the activities of activists is causing their parking enforcers to not be able to “do their job”. As part of her testimony, parking enforcer Lin presented partial “gap reports”, which consist of information logging the time and location of each expired meter violation written. While it is the job of parking enforcers to search for expired meter violations, it is not necessarily their job to find them, wherefore every meter in Keene could happen to be in compliance outside of the ticketing agent’s control. Lin indirectly acknowledged a sort of parking ticket quota placed upon her by bosses, as she stated that she must justify significant time gaps between tickets in the report, which led to the enforcers logging sightings of Robin Hooders within the reports.

Strangely enough, the partially prepared attorneys for the city presented incomplete gap reports, which had omitted information pertaining directly to times referenced in written annotations. Attorney Dietel rationalized that the city didn’t intend to show the physical data pertaining directly to what was being testified about, and instead that their intention was to share the incredibly vague written annotations, which were demonstrative of nothing substantive. Was it intentional obfuscation or shortsightedness that caused the city’s lawyers to neglect to include mathematical data to presumably support their claim? Is there a reason that the city would not want the public to know exactly how effective Robin Hooders have been at reducing the number of tickets being issued?

During the cross examinations of the two testifying Robin Hooders, city attorneys rehashed political and philosophical arguments raised in the original trial, demonstrating that the motivations of activists remains mostly unchanged. After calling on Garret to analyze the actions of Ian in his video, Ian was soon brought to the stand, provoking the moral ire of Charles Bauer. He asked Ian if he believed the parking enforcer’s jobs to be immoral, as though it were a condemnable personal position to hold. After receiving answers to his questions, Bauer spitefully appealed to the judge to “strike” the testimony and “compel” an alternative answer. Judge Kissinger rightly hesitated to compel any action, and endeavored well to restore proper decorum over the protests of the plaintiffs.

Rumors from what was overheard during bench conferences were that a mysterious individual named Matthew Phillips had filed a motion to intervene into the case. Allegedly, this person wished to be added to the list of defendants. The judge dismissed the motion(s) at this time, though the potential for the motion to be restored remains, as it is likely that the same person filing the motion was one of the two individuals testified to as causing significant concern to PEO Jane on April 11 of 2015.

Attorneys in this case have until October 19th to file additional statements of support or their position. The judge also requested ample study be applied to other cases in which courts have upheld floating buffer zones, which have predominantly only applied to fixed areas around women’s health clinics.

janesnapsgarret_153334bNot living up to the full measure of innocuous irrelevancy as they could have, the city unfortunately did not present any of the random photos and videos that they had included in a discovery package for the defense. In the packet were images of Ian and Garret walking around, as well as a video of Garret parking a bicycle at the City Hall bike rack. In the throes of pointlessness reached during this sort of lawsuit, one is reminded of the infinite imposition of energy consumption that the state is capable of, even such small and lesser-significant state organizations as the not so humble city of Keene.

Full video coverage of the court performance is now available at Fr33manTVraw. You can also check out this interview with Jon Meyer in which the defense attorney gives an update on the status of the case. You can also catch the story from the Keene Sentinel.

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Watch Rand Paul Avoid Questions on Israel

by Derrick Broze
July 20, 2015
This article originally appeared at

We are more than a year away from the 2016 presidential election, yet the oldstream corporate media institutions are already parading around the cast of characters from which Americans are supposed to choose their next “leader.” While the Democratic race features only two perceived candidates in the form of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the Republican race is a non-stop circus show as each candidate seemingly attempts to outdo the other with increasingly asinine comments.

While most of the Republican candidates (and Hillary Clinton) are fighting for the title of world’s biggest war monger, one candidate appears to be of a different breed. He carries with him a well-known family name and a die-hard following. I am not talking about Jeb Bush, but rather, Rand Paul.

Two years ago, Rand Paul was not seen as a contender for the White House outside of some Republican and Liberty circles. Now, Rand has officially thrown his hat into the race and many supporters of his father, former congressman Ron Paul, hope Rand can get the job done. Many believe one Paul is better than no Paul. To them, Rand represents a more politically aware and cunning Ron Paul. Rand is willing to play the game where his father was incapable or unwilling. Rand Paul gives hope to those who no longer believe in the traditional left-right, Democrat-Republican paradigm and recognize that those two parties have the game rigged.

There is just one problem: Rand Paul is not Ron Paul. He is a questionable character at best—if not already a complete politician. He is willing to lie to the people in order to get what he wants. The Anti-Media recently debunked the notion that Rand Paul is a libertarian. In fact, Rand Paul calls his vision for American foreign policy “Conservative Realism.” He claims he could be the one to lead America off the path of drone bombing and torture, war and violence, and taxes and regulation—but a closer examination of his words reveals his slow creep towards typical Republican neoconservative thought. If we find ourselves facing a Hillary vs. Rand situation, we will see how little difference there is between these two.

There are several areas of concern when it comes to Rand Paul. Some have covered his endorsement of Romney as a warning sign. Others focus on his attempts to get journalist Abby Martin fired after dodging questions from her and fellow journalist Luke Rudkowski. Despite his 13 hour filibuster on drones, the closer the election gets, the more willing Rand seems to tow the Republican party line.

Rand Paul recently spoke in New York City at the Center for the National Interest’s annual dinner, where he revealed his support for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. Senator Paul took a shot at the Obama Administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” and stated the controversial TPP should be negotiated by the end of this year.

Critics say the TPP would allow domestic laws and decisions to be overrun by the TPP governing bodies, resulting in a loss of sovereignty.

Perhaps the most revealing behavior from Rand Paul comes from his stance on Israel. The senator has been criticized for flip-flopping on whether or not he will support the Israeli lobby. Although most Republicans choose to stand by Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Iran poses an imminent threat to the nation, The Anti Media has proven time and time again that these claims are simply false. In reality, the goal is to maintain Western hegemony over the Middle East. This is why Rand Paul also supported legislation that cut funding for Palestine and supported Israel.

Any presidential candidate who is for peace would not support a nation responsible for egregious human rights violations—like Israel.

Since Rand Paul seems to waver on whether or not he wants to cut funding for Israel, I decided to give him a chance to spell out his position. On July 17th, 2015, Senator Paul spoke in Houston, Texas. I attended in the hopes of asking the senator a single question: “Can you clarify your position on Israel?” Senator Paul was not interested in talking.

I know there are those out there who will say, “Of course he didn’t answer you! He is busy! There was a long line of people!”—among other things—but I completely disagree. Running for president is like applying for a job. If you want to step into a leadership position and play president, you need to convince the people. Presidential campaigns are essentially one long job interview with the people. If you want my vote, you had better be willing to engage and communicate so the people know exactly where you stand.

While Rand Paul travels the nation attempting to convince the people that he is here to “Defeat the Washington Machine,” his actions show that he is quite simply another cog in that exact establishment. It’s time to do everything we can to slow this machine until it grinds to a screeching halt. It’s time to replace the lies and tyranny with something new—something free and beautiful.

What will the future look like? That is something for today’s free hearts and minds to create. One thing remains certain—real change will not come through the ballot box.

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AKPF #1: Cultwell

cantshootgunswellusaComing back after a break from internet broadcasts, the producers are happy to announce a new episode of AKPF #1 for cable and webcast, featuring content filmed very recently in the Keene area. IP strikes have delayed the release of some episodes and prevented others from being broadcast on youtube and other free video hosting services. Featuring almost entirely original content, this episode should hopefully remain outside of the grasp of information censors. Enjoy this week’s episode of AKPF #1, Cultwell, featuring an interview with Cantwellism researcher Ethan Glover by Garret Ean.

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Cannabis Protesters to Converge on NH State House at 4:20pm Today!

For the sixth consecutive year, activists will be taking to the State House lawn today, 420on4-20_24.previewsignMonday, April 20th at 4:20pm to demand the repeal of the continued war on cannabis consumers. Some will likely engage in civil disobedience. Despite roadblocks put up by NH governor Maggie Hassan, we hope that this will be the year that we win more liberty for our people. Please join us today at the State House lawn at 4:20pm!

Here’s a facebook event with 150 confirmed attending. Come on out, rain (likely) or shine!

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Who Represents The Minority?

Originally published in the Keene Sentinel on 13 Feb 2015
by Conan Salada

Democracy; Two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner!

a-husky-in-sheeps-clothingThat’s exactly what went down at last Saturday’s deliberative session, where a small group of fiscally responsible residents went head-to-head with the tax hungry education industry.

As was expected, they were completely outnumbered, ridiculed and ultimately silenced. School board member Susan Hay summed up the proceedings perfectly, “We don’t need a very small minority of people in this community — that do not in any way represent the will of the people — telling us how to do our job.”

This brings up a very important question. Who, then, represents me? If I have no voice because the powers that be disagree or outright refuse to hear me, why then should I be forced to pay into such an institution. What happened to deriving their powers from the consent of the governed? Well, I officially renounce the consent I never swore to in the first place.

And what is this “will of the people?”

I seem to recall a time in this country’s history where it was the “will of the people (voters)” to run the indigenous peoples (minorities) off of their land and onto reservations. Once upon a time, it was the “will of the people” to keep certain minorities and their children’s children in bondage. Not too long ago, it was the “will of the people” to prevent certain members of society from casting a vote based on their gender, skin color or property ownership.

These days, it is universally understood that those actions were absolutely immoral and that just because the majority, or, in most instances, the plurality, agreed one way, it didn’t make it right. But have we learned from those past mistakes?

Though we are undeniably freer today, many are still caught up in that old system of thought where the mandates of the collective far outweigh the rights of the individual. Now we live in the age of entitlement, where every year more come to expect those free social programs that can only exist because Peter was robbed to pay Paul.

Of course, these thefts are legitimized because it was government that ultimately did the stealing. It would be unlawful for you or me to steal directly from our neighbors, but it’s perfectly acceptable to cheat and use government to do it for us. Which brings us back to the People’s Daycare (i.e. public school).

This year, the board’s recommended budget is set to increase to $64.5 million. At 3,200 students, that’s more than $20,000 per student. Like our federal debt, the amount is physically staggering and it’s only going up. Despite what you may have heard, our school administrators and board members have absolutely no willingness or desire to bring that number down unless they are forced to do so. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the budget or not, whether your kids are home taught or sent to private school, or whether you even have kids in the system at all, the school will get your money at the end of the day regardless of how well they do. The majority has declared it so and if you don’t pay up, they’ll take your home as punishment.

And of course that is the most ironic part of this entire process: the anti-bullying stance these school authorities spout off on a regular basis. Well, I have a news flash for you. Your beloved system is fundamentally built on the practice of bullying others. You’ll give us your lunch money or we’ll take your house.

If you don’t like it, you can run for office yourself (join the ranks of bullies). Or, move to another playground (and take your chances with another gang). Sadly, most kids (beaten down) accept their fate and hand over their money willingly. A small few do fight back, regardless of the odds stacked against them.

They do this because they believe in true freedom and not some nonsense ideology they learned in government school. They do this because they believe that no majority EVER has the right to vote away the rights of a minority.

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