In a terrible update to an already awful story, the DEA has arrested the owners of Phat Stuff, the popular local head shop on Main Street that was raided in May of 2014. Panos and Katie Eliopoulos were arrested (allegedly in front of their kids) in February and have been charged with one count of “Conspiracy to Offer Drug Paraphernalia for Sale” and one count of “Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering”. You can read the short, three page indictment here.
The paraphernalia sales charge carries up to three years in prison and an unspecified fine and the money laundering charge carries up to twenty years in prison, an up to $500,000 fine, and an additional fine relating to the value of the property involved.
Longtime readers of Free Keene may recall that the raid nearly destroyed their business and left them penniless as the federal gangsters cleaned out their bank account and even stole their truck. Oh, and don’t forget the DEA’s theft of an entire box-truckload of store merchandise – probably $100,000 in inventory, which they’ll likely never get back, even if they’re found not guilty. The raid was done with the assistance of Keene police, who were protecting and serving their federal masters, not the people of this community. In an ideal world, the Keene police would have arrested the DEA agents and charged them with armed robbery. You can watch the 17-minute video of the raid, cut down from over four hours of raw footage here.
Eliopoulous Family’s Life Destroyed By Insane War on Drugs
The indictment was issued on February 11th and the arrests appear to have occurred a week later on February 18th, according to the bail paperwork. Bail conditions for Panos (and presumably Katie, though I haven’t seen her bail paperwork) include him submitting to search anytime police want, submit to urine testing, and give up any weapons, among other conditions.
Trial is currently slated for two weeks in federal court in Concord beginning on April 21st, 2015 at 9:30am. The Eliopouloses are represented by attorney Charles Keefe. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.
Mention government corruption, wasteful spending, crony politics and most minds will undoubtedly go straight to the sleaze pit we know as Washington D.C. Try to convince your neighbor that that same ooze may lie closer to home at the municipal level and you’ll likely run into some opposition. After all, we’re talking about our neighbors. Our co-workers. These are local heroes who take time out of their busy lives to make ours better.
They are also human. Just as corruptible and just as likely to misuse public funds as the parasites in DC. Let me explain.
Last year the Keene School District unabashedly spent $24,000 of our money to advertise its very controversial Article 1 that dealt with the acquiring of a $13 million bond for school renovations and the subsequent closing of Jonathan Daniels Elementary. They placed pro-article 1 ads in the Sentinel, the Shopper, on WKBK radio, and blanketed the city in campaign signs. For those unaware, the act of using government property to influence the results of a vote is known as electioneering and is illegal in the state of NH (RSA 659:44-a). The school board justified this act by claiming a need to “educate” the folks on current affairs. This is nothing new, really. Governmental departments across the country are guilty of using public funds to perpetuate their own agenda. The problem is no one is calling them out on it.
When asked what he thought of this misuse of taxpayer money, KSD attorney, John Wrigley, had this to say: “I think the school board has an obligation to inform and to educate… In 30 years I’ve been doing this I’ve seen the board over-extend itself more than once. I sit there and I look at something and I say, “Whoa I hope no one asks me about that.” But those are specific details that sometimes I trip across. I think on the whole, the board does it right, it has public hearings to inform and to educate. …but, I think sometimes they over-extend themselves. But I think it’s all in good faith…we’re not talking about Richard Daley in Chicago and that sort of thing.”
So in other words, it’s ok to break the law as long as it’s for the kids and as long as it’s not Richard Daley level. Had you or I attempted this same stunt, we would be looking at fines and or imprisonment. It’s true. Badges and titles do grant special privileges to some.
Need another example of how KSD spends your money? (more…)
A bill before the NH state house would, if passed, restrict police in NH from acquiring any equipment that average people cannot acquire, thereby preventing further issuance of any BEARCATS and other military-grade equipment, and stopping the further militarization of the police. This week, Keene liberty activists went to the state house to speak on the bill and the issue of ending police militarization. Here’s video:
Also, we dropped in on a hearing to increase the minimum wage and explained to the legislators why the minimum wage only hurts those it intends to help and how it’s economically destructive: (more…)
Democracy: Two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner!
That’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.