Your Money or (Five Months of) Your Life

Lindsay Toler at the RiverFront Times reports:

Jimmy Tebeau -- who turned his 350-acre farm into a concert venue complete with its own open-air drug market -- will be out of jail earlier than expected.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons lists Tebeau's new release date as September 7, 2014, five months earlier than his original release in February 2015.

Update: Tebeau's lawyer Scott Rosenblum says the early release was negotiated up front during his sentencing, especially since Tebeau cooperated financially by surrendering his farm to authorities.

Tebeau faced a 30-month sentence after he pleaded guilty in June 2012 to maintaining a drug-involved premises -- the federal government's way of saying Tebeau allowed a rampant drug market at Camp Zoe, where he lived with his wife and children. Tebeau was also fined $50,000 and ordered to serve 200 hours of community service.

Tebeau's land was seized by the federal government and sold for $640,000 to Missouri State Parks, which is turning the former hippie haven into a park for fishing, floating and hiking.

Tebeau won't see any of that money since he lost his land after his conviction. The money doesn't even go to Missouri schools, as it would have if a local law-enforcement agency had arrested Tebeau. Instead, all that money goes to the DEA and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, two agencies who investigated the drugs sold at Camp Zoe.

It is worth noting that Tebeau's plea agreement with the government contained the admission that Tebeau himself had done nothing wrong. Moreover, it is clear that the Missouri State Highway Patrol and any other Missouri law enforcement agencies that receive proceeds from the sale of Camp Zoe could not have done so had the investigation and forfeiture been conducted under Missouri law. Not only does the Missouri Constitution direct forfeiture proceeds to education but the Missouri Constitution expressly bars the use of asset forfeiture to take an "estate" (as attorney Dave Roland noted in December 2010).

It is unlikely that Jimmy Tebeau would have faced jail time or forfeiture of his estate if Missouri law enforcement agencies had not rendered their services to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Indeed, without the financial incentive from a federal forfeiture payout, Missouri law enforcement would hew closer to the laws governing their conduct. Perhaps they would have arrested the drug dealers instead of seizing Tebeau's property, or worked harder to ensure the safety of festival-goers.

Missouri can put a stop to this subversion of state law enforcement to federal priorities by prohibiting the use of forfeiture funds by law enforcement entirely; if federal forfeiture revenues are available, the Missouri legislature should insist on having those revenues sent to the state's general fund. Without such reforms, Missourians will see the federal government increasingly dictating the affairs of local life, as Missouri law enforcement ramps up increasingly lucrative partnerships with federal agencies looking for profit. 

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • commented 2014-01-06 09:56:11 -0600
    The saddest and most ironic aspect of this entire affair is the fact that Missouri can NOT afford to maintain and upkeep the parks and natural areas it already has custodianship of.