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I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I am currently serving a life sentence without parole for trafficking marijuana, after two prior convictions for intent to distribute. In 1986 I pled guilty to (1) poss. with intent to distribute a small amount of cocaine, and( 2 )poss. with intent to distribute marijuana. The latter charge emanated from a friend's residence where as a fugitive I was apprehended, but I am actually innocent of that marijuana charge. Originally I was supposed to plead guilty to 2 charges that emanated from a search and seizure conducted at my residence, but somehow the case numbers got switched and I did not discover this until many years later when they used it to enhance my present sentence. The significance of this latter prior is that if I had pled guilty to only 2 charges from my residence, these two priors would've only been considered one, due to occurring out of the same time and events and could not have implemented the life without parole provision in the trafficking statue. I discharged 7 years in custody and 3 more suspended in 1991, if ten years would've expired from 1991 until I caught this present case, they could not have enhanced with priors. So with that explained I will tell my story. (Rick's son (15) below.)
In May of 1996, a Mexican/American, turned informant, was stopped by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol; same trooper was later sued for racial profiling in an unrelated case, in Wagoner County, OK. The reason for the stop was alleged lights not working on a tow dolly. The informant stated he was on his way to Tulsa to purchase a vehicle, but after a canine alerted the Trooper to one of the vehicles tires, he changed his story telling the Troopers "You got me, I don't want to do time". He then told Troopers I am delivering marijuana to a man named Rick who lives in Ottawa County, OK .The informant also advised Troopers that he had delivered several pounds of marijuana to Rick's rural address just 4 days before.
Upon local authorities corroborating only, that Rick Dopp was registered owner of rural property identified by the informant, a search warrant was issued. The warrant listed a generic class of items "Any controlled dangerous substance".
The officers conducting the said search did not knock or announce their presence or authority before kicking in my front door, this is contrary to governing law in Oklahoma. At trial the officers simply covered this up by lying, one stated they did announce and waited 6-7 seconds before kicking in the door. The next day at trial the other officer stretched it to 30 seconds.
After hiring a local attorney, he informed me that if I would turn informant and witness against the Mexicans who had supplied the marijuana they would drop all charges. Knowing what being betrayed felt like and the consequences of being labeled a snitch, I just couldn't do it. The prosecutor then proposed that I had to pay all towing and storage fees and if I refused he was going to have my bail bond revoked and myself returned to the jail until my final disposition of my case. Charging such fees is also contrary to governing law in Oklahoma. So I paid over $5,500.00 to numerous towing and storage operators, to get my 18 vehicles back and not have my bail bond revoked.
This same prosecutor later proposed that he would return $5,000.00 of my $33,725.00 they had seized from me, amazingly this was the exact amount the attorney wanted to do a jury trial, and postpone my trial until the next docket if I would sign over the remaining $28,725.00 to them. Again I refused and they postponed my trial anyway. The only plea bargain agreement proposed to me through my attorney the entire time of litigating my case was that I plead guilty and receive a life sentence without parole. No one in his or her right mind is going to do that on a non-violent marijuana charge. After hiring the second attorney, both of which continued to tell me they could beat this case because of illegal search and seizure issues. I was even told that if I ran out of money to pay him, he would continue to represent me until he got me out, this promise was not kept.
On May 1, 1998, a jury found me guilty of trafficking, maintaining a dwelling where Controlled Dangerous Substance is kept, and possession of firearm. They had no idea the prosecutor was pushing for life without parole until they found me guilty. The court failed to give me a manditorily required burden of proof instruction on my priors which confused and misled the jury resulting in their attempts to sentence me to 30 years. Due to improper format, the court refused to accept said sentence and failed to correct the improper jury instruction. After allowing the prosecutor to misinform the jury as to their duties and purported Oklahoma law, the jury reluctantly imposed the life without parole thinking it was their only alternative.
The Federal government filed and obtained forfeiture of my house, shop, 29 acres with everything on it because of the marijuana that was seized from there, they then auctioned it off for 1/2 of what it was worth. I have lost a wife, 7 plus years of my life and that of raising my son, horses, cows vehicles, untold amounts of money and still counting, plus the above mentioned items. No violence or victims, other than my family and myself, resulted from my crime.
I grew up in the Baptist church and considered myself a Christian, but I was simply deceived when it came to the marijuana business. I see the light of truth now regarding this area and I admit I was wrong. I have learned a hard lesson and I am not all that interested in obtaining sympathy, I don't see where that would help in anyway. However I would appreciate a sentence modification to something a little more proportionate to the crime compared to the circumstances. Better yet I would appreciate obtaining a ruling from the court on the governing case law regarding my case. In no way should the government be allowed to break the law of the land to enforce the law of the land, but yet that is exactly what has happened in my case. (Rick's son (at 8) right)
Rick Dopp 126054
8607 SE Flowermound Road
Lawton, OK, 73501
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