Wednesday, February 22, 2006

93 arrests at '05 rave now hang in balance - THE FLINT JOURNAL

An update on the Flint "rave" case...

By Paul Janczewski

pjanczewski@flintjournal.com • 810.766.6333

FLINT -A judge is expected to decide within 35 days whether to dismiss misdemeanor charges of frequenting a drug house against 93 people arrested last March at a rave party at Club What's Next.

Genesee Circuit Judge Joseph J. Farah also will rule if evidentiary hearings are needed for those arrested when police swooped in.

Farah listened to arguments from attorney Kenneth M. Mogill, who represents one woman arrested in the bust, and assistant Flint City Attorney Sam R. Terry.

Mogill also spoke for other attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union, who are representing others arrested at the club March 20.

Flint police and the Genesee County Sheriff's Department arrested clubgoers after undercover officers and civilian operatives bought Ecstasy, LSD and a psychedelic mushroom inside the club, they said.

About 17 people, including the promoter, were arrested on felony drug charges. The other partygoers were strip-searched and arrested on misdemeanor drug possession charges or for frequenting a drug house, a maximum 90-day misdemeanor.

Officers seized Ecstasy pills, LSD, the so-called "date rape drug" GHB and Ketamine, an animal tranquilizer.

Mogill said the people whom he and others represent had a right to be at the club and should not be arrested for the actions and activities of others. He said one clubgoer was arrested blocks away after he left the club at 2511 W. Pasadena Ave.

None of the defendants represented by the ACLU had drugs or drug paraphernalia on them.

Terry said police conducted surveillance and used confidential informants before making arrests.

He defended the language of the city ordinance that was used to issue charges and said drug activity or sales were noted in 60 spots in the club.

"It's completely unreasonable to say (those arrested) could not have known" of the drug activity, he said.

Earlier, Flint city prosecutors offered plea deals to those charged in the raid, but the deals were apparently withdrawn when no one accepted them by an October deadline.

An evidentiary hearing would shed more light on the arrests and procedures. Mogill said police do not know when those present entered the club, their proximity to drug activity or that they had knowledge that it was occurring, information that could be revealed through such a hearing.

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