Perry A. McCullough -- #04525-097

32 Years -- Cocaine Conspiracy

Perry McCullough, prisoner of the drug war
Update: 12/21/00 -- About the people in the picture with Perry. The woman in the center is Roberta Pitt and the others are her daughter, Kathy and Kathy's husband. The story of how Roberta "adopted" me and has taken upon herself the job of keeping me connected to the real world is a story in itself. She is a committed Christian who does all my mailing, ordering of materials and keeps me in contact with all of the organizations that I work with.

Although we are not related by law or blood, these people have been closer to me and more committed to the cause of freedom than my own family. In a real sense they are my "family."

I am a 59-year-old POW. My previous "criminal history," in 48 years of living prior to incarceration, consisted of failing to appear on a "fix-it-ticket" for a broken taillight in 1973.

At the time of my arrest I had two children ages 7 and 6. I was divorced, but my 6-year-old son lived with me, and his mother and sister lived just two miles away in Rancho Mirage, California. I have seen my children once, for 15 minutes, since my arrest.

I was originally indicted and convicted on the "drug kingpin" statute, "Conducting a Continual Criminal Enterprise," but that was overturned on appeal for insufficient evidence. The District Court judge re-sentenced me in absentia to 31 years, 8 months for Conspiracy. District Court Judge Edward Garcia ruled in 1995 that my motion to dismiss the indictment for double jeopardy violations was "construed" a motion under 28 USC #2255. So, any additional # 2255 would be barred by AEDPA. I appealed Judge Garcia's decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and on May 2, 1998, that court reversed the decision and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on the motion. The judge has failed to order the required hearing for two years and seven months.

My sentence is for telephone calls and the act of flying a drug courier in my airplane.

My case is not unique by any means. I was caught up in a "sting" operation where the cops were pretending to be "bad guys," and were threatening my best friend. He was told that they were Mafia from New York, and that he and his family were in "trouble" unless he assisted them in setting up a West Coast cocaine network. The "sting" was taking place in Lake Tahoe on the California/Nevada border. At that time I lived in Palm Desert, but I was in touch with my friend in Tahoe. The "bad guys" also included the Mayor of the City of South Lake Tahoe in their operation, and his arrest had a deep impact on me. I had become the "kingpin" of a drug importation / distribution / money laundering organization which never existed except in the devious minds of the "good guys." I became the kingpin solely because I had lots of assets to seize.

All my assets were forfeited, but I have obtained reversal of the criminal forfeiture and the civil forfeiture. The civil forfeiture of my airplane is before the U.S. Supreme Court. Nevertheless, I got very little back. The prosecutors managed to destroy all my equity while I was detained for 14 months while awaiting my "speedy trial."

I flew a Southern California drug courier from El Monte to Sacramento to meet my friend and his "Mafia" blackmailer. We were arrested the next day in Sacramento. At the same time, the cops were arresting every small time street dealer they knew in Lake Tahoe. On June 12, 1989 the "good guys" held a press conference and announced to the world that they had "broken the back of the Deep Snow Organization led by South Lake Tahoe Mayor Terry Trupp, but masterminded by Perry A. McCullough. We made the 6:00 o'clock news in New York.

I was denied bail, even though I had no criminal history, owned a thriving real estate business, and supported a family. I was in pre-trial detention for 1 1/2 years. On appeal I argued that the District Court's failure to set a trial date within the 70-day limits of the Speedy Trial Act violated the Sixth Amendment. But Chief Judge Hug stated that my argument was "even in this hypertechnical area of the law, too technical and obtuse." Unbelievable!

All other defendants (24 in all) took some kind of plea to a lesser sentence. I was the only defendant to demand a trial. I was naive. I believed in the "justice system," and so I demanded to tell my story of governmental entrapment. That never happened. Twenty-six government "experts" testified that my daily planner, in which I wrote down everything I needed to accomplish in a given day, showed a lifetime of crime. My tax records were "evidence" of my criminality. Everyone was an expert in something, and nobody had the slightest idea what they were talking about. However, it sounded good when the transcript was printed.

Then there was the "snitch," a guy I had seen only twice in five years and facing "life without the possibility of parole" as a career offender in unrelated cases. He testified at my trial that I had supplied him with cocaine for years. He received a five-year sentence, and two indictments were dismissed against him. I am the only Deep Snow defendant still incarcerated.

I knew what I was doing when I flew the courier to Sacramento, and I knew it was against the law. The courier had five kilos of high-grade cocaine in his bag, and I knew that also. Under the law, as bad and illegal as it is, I was subject to a 10-year, minimum mandatory sentence. Judge Edward Garcia is completely under the ether of the drug-war-propaganda-induced psychosis. He hated me for demanding a trial, and he buried me at sentencing so that I would never emerge from prison.

Only you, and others like you, can free us POWs. Your work is deeply appreciated.