Cops get a bad rap among stoners, and maybe for good reason. But every once in awhile a cop comes along who actually helps out folks of the pothead persuasion. A deputy sheriff and prominent member of an anti-drug task force in Northern California just did the less-than-legal marijuana cultivators and retailers of the Sacramento area a major solid by getting himself busted with a major amount of weed last week, an incident which is likely to jeopardize–if not disintegrate–several of his ongoing and previous marijuana cases.
Christopher M. Heath, the deputy in question, was arrested in Pennsylvania on December 28, along with two accomplices, after local officers discovered 240 pounds of cannabis with what authorities say is a street value of roughly $2 million, according to The New York Times. The bust came following a tip to the local investigators. Heath is being held on a $1 million bail.
The question now is how badly does that fuck up the drug cases Heath is and has been involved in. Heath is a fairly accomplished anti-narcotics officer, having headed 62 narcotics investigations across two counties (Yuba and Sutter), many of them involving marijuana, and one of them being rolled into a major federal case, according to the Appeal-Democrat newspaper. Heath is also a member of the NET-5 anti-narcotics task force.
Yuba County district attorney Patrick McGrath told the Times he is reviewing all of Heath’s investigations to find if they might have been tainted by the deputy’s illegal activities. “If Heath’s work was witnessed or can be otherwise credibly covered by the testimony of another investigator, the case may not be significantly impacted,” he said. “In other situations, the case may be tainted to such a degree that we cannot proceed and the case will be dismissed.”
The first details on the arrest of Deputy Heath came from York County district attorney Tom Kearney. “One has to be both saddened and angry when you hear of something like this,” Mr. Kearney told The Evening Sun of Hanover. “The work that is done by the task force and police officers in general is very dangerous work, and it is made more dangerous by the fact that occasionally there is a bad apple in the barrel.”
Heath will be placed on leave with pay while authorities continue their investigation. There’s no indication so far as to whether or not the sizable quantity of cannabis found in the deputy’s possession is itself related to one of his drug cases.