A Ten-Year Sentence for $50 of Marijuana?

And to make it worse, the poor soul may have been set up.

Here’s the story. Two cops stop a guy, supposedly for horsing around on his bicycle in the middle of the street. They pat him down, supposedly because he approached them holding out two Xanax pills in his hand and saying, “Do you want to talk to me? This is all I have.” They pat him down, and supposedly, they find baggies bearing about $50 worth of marijuana in all. They arrest him for it, and the guy is charged with possession for sale, convicted, and sentenced to ten years at hard labor.

Here’s where it gets worse. On appeal, the guy argued that he was entitled to a new trial because, get this, the two cops who arrested him were found to have planted cocaine on a different suspect one month after his arrest. By the time of his appeal, the cops had pleaded guilty to criminal charges of perjury and malfeasance in office, and they had been sentenced. Our guy had previously moved for a new trial before his sentencing, which took place just before the cops entered their guilty pleas, but his motion was denied by the trial court. Then, even on appeal, the appeals court affirmed his conviction, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the new-trial motion.

Sorry, buddy. No soup for you.

In case you were wondering, the two cops who planted cocaine received suspended sentences (meaning no jail time) and fines of $2,500 and $5,000, respectively. But the guy who was chucking a few bags of pot—if that—got ten years.

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