Marijuana in delivery leads to arrest of businesswoman Suit says computer seizure threatens clothing business

May 31, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

WESTMINSTER -- Posing as a United Parcel Service deliveryman, a member of the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force brought Pamela Davis a package that led to her arrest and threatens to ruin her clothing business.

In a civil suit filed last week in Circuit Court, Davis is seeking the return of more than $40,000 worth of computer equipment seized by the drug task force immediately after the package -- which contained 1.5 ounces of marijuana -- was signed for.

The task force raided her Humbert School House Road home May 7, after the bogus UPS man delivered the package. Davis and two of her adult children were charged with drug possession and distribution charges as a result of the raid.

The only drug found in the house, court records show, was the marijuana delivered by the task force. Davis, through her attorney, declined to comment on the matter.

The suit calls the seizure and retention of the computer equipment, confiscated in an attempt to find records linking the suspects to the drugs, "clearly unreasonable." It seeks the immediate return of the computers and $100,000 in damages.

The computers "contain software and data that are utilized eight hours a day, six and a half days a week in the operation of my wholesale clothing business," Davis said in the court filing. "Without it, we have no idea what has been ordered by our customers or when it is to be shipped."

Davis' business -- Terrapin Station -- purchases, imports and distributes Guatemalan clothing and accessories. It posts annual sales of about $380,000, records show.

Leading to the May 7 raid was a tip from a Southern California UPS security official, the search warrant showed.

The day before, UPS received a package its officials viewed as suspicious because of its wrapping, the warrant says. UPS opened the package, found the marijuana, resealed the package and sent it to the task force.

UPS provided an company uniform for the task force, so a member could be disguised as a deliveryman. After the package was signed for, task force officers moved in and began seizing the computer equipment.

Tfc. A. Donald Grimes, the officer in charge of the raid, is named in the suit, as is the task force. Neither Grimes nor task force director Barton F. Walker III could be reached for comment last week.

The suit says that Davis offered to provide the task force with copies of all of her software and business records, and to allow them to inspect the computers. The task force declined the offer, and told Davis that the computers -- and even Davis' house -- could be forfeited to the government.

Assets of people suspected of drug dealing can be forfeited, even if charges aren't brought and even if a person is found not guilty of the charges.

"This is about an important issue," said Charles O. Fisher Jr., the Westminster attorney who filed the suit and who is seeking a court order for the equipment's return. "This kind of case is exceedingly scary."

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