The Michael Phelps Witch Hunt Gets Surreal


Earlier this week, Jacob Sullum noted that the Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff's Department went out and arrested eight people on marijuana charges allegedly associated with the now-famous bong photo of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Attorneys for two of those eight are now speaking out about how they were arrested.

"He's sitting there on Saturday, and 12 cops kick in the door with guns drawn, search the house, and find 5, maybe 6 grams of pot," Harpootlian said about his client, who was arrested in the first raid at the Wells Point Drive home near Ballentine.

"They never asked him, 'Who sold you the pot?'" Harpootlian continued. "They were asking, 'Were you at the party with Michael Phelps? Did you see him using marijuana?' It was all about Michael Phelps."

The charges resulted from Saturday's raids and are not connected to the November party that Phelps attended.

Harpootlian, the former top prosecutor for Richland and Kershaw counties, and McCulloch contend Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is conducting an overzealous investigation of their clients to try to get evidence against Phelps.

"The sheriff's department is deploying resources they are normally reserving for major drug dealers and major criminals," said McCulloch, also a former prosecutor…

Harpootlian said his client, whom he noted is on leave from USC, is "scared" because of the enormous publicity surrounding Phelps.

"He's being treated more harshly than any kid anywhere in the country," Harpootlian said. "The only reefer madness is being done at the sheriff's department."

According to Harpootlian and McCulloch, police seized four laptop computers, a desktop computer, a computer storage drive and a cell phone, mostly to search for incriminating photos of Phelps.

I guess they can at least be thankful Sheriff Leon Lott didn't send his tank.

Another glorious moment in America's drug war.