SoDakNORML.org

The South Dakota Affiliate of the 
National Organization for the Reform 
(Repeal) of Marijuana Laws
It's NORML to want good food, good medicine and sane laws.

email SoDakNORML

SoDakNORML Home

 

Bob Newland's statement about this page: About March 10, 2017, I received a phone call from Scott Lane, from a small town in New Hampshire. He had just been informed that he was about to be extradited to Watertown SD, to face charges of failing to appear at a hearing about two years ago. We have had several conversations since then. I helped him find an attorney who would represent him for the money he was able to raise. I am now going to post several items that he has sent me. I can't independently verify the truth of anything he says, but it has the ring of truth in my mind. I also am aware of similar aberrant behavior on the parts of several prosecutors in SoDak. I have not edited Scott's statement, except where absolutely necessary to a reader's understanding.

 

Statement of Scott Lane

Let me start by saying I've lived on and off in Watertown SD since around 2000. I have an aunt that owned a bar for 25+ years in a little town 30 miles outside of Watertown. Ever since I moved to Watertown Ive been a "petty offender". My first charges being an under age  consumption and disorderly conduct. Over the years Id occasionally get into some form of trouble or another and it was always so blown out of proportion and over charged. In 2014 I believe someone said I pushed them in the hallway of an apartment building and for a while I had a warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and the incident was caught on camera so there was never a case against me but the prosecution opened and closed the case at least 2 or 3 times over half a year before it was finally permanently dropped.


My arrest record in Watertown makes me look like Hannibal Lector but my convictions, all results of pleas advised by the same public defender, Terry Sutton, have all been petty misdemeanors. So basically every time Im doing or not doing the slightest thing wrong in that town I get charges piled on me, facing ridiculous amounts of time, Like Decades, in prison have all gotten resolved with misdemeanor pleas for time served because theres never any tangible evidence supporting the serious allegations and a public defender advising the easy resolution of misdemeanor pleas and time served.

Im sorry I don't have the exact dates in front of me but two years ago in 2015 I was pulled over in the rear passenger seat of Ethan Freih's car, I met Ethan when I was hired to be his foreman on a small construction crew and I knew him for approximately 1.5-2 years. He lived for a period of time in a trailer park that I helped manage part time and I also did quite a bit of maintaince and remodeling work in. For a period of time I bought weed from Ethan. i started distancing myself from him for a while when he started getting into heavier stuff. Ive been down the road of addiction a time or two but I always was able to "function", hold a job, pay bills and be viewed as "normal" in society and for a while he was becoming someone I didn't care to be around. Several weeks before this incident he told me he was doing better and it seemed he was so we hung out a little more often again and when he invited me out to smoke i went.

Anyway, I was in the rear passenger seat of his car, he was front passenger and a girl friend of his was driving. In all actuality we were driving around after smoking a joint and we were pulled over. The warrant for assault that had been dropped 2-3 times and the fact that I didn't commit ANY crime was on video in the hallway of the apartment building was again active so they arrested me and I explained (correctly) that it was dropped and ridiculous in the first place. I advised the officer I had a prescription bottle on me that was my live in girlfriends at the time for a dental surgery she'd had a week before. She asked me earlier in the day to grab them from our apartment so when we met up later she could alleviate her pain. She stated this to the police and prosecution and one of my possession charges is a result of me not knowing it was illegal to have, idk, maybe a dozen vicodin in a bottle prescribed to her with a matching address to where i lived on my person at her request. I was cuffed in the back of the cruiser and they proceeded to search Ethan's car, Ethan was then cuffed and the girl was allowed to go. After sitting in jail for several hours the police read me a list of charges, a felony possession for the pills that i thought were perfectly legal for me to bring to my girlfriend( they never returned them to my now ex girlfriend, maybe the cops used them to plant on someone else). I was charged with another felony possession and a possession with intent to distribute, when i asked the police what for they informed me when they searched the car several empty "residue" baggies were found along with a scale with residue on it. I stated i wasn't aware of anything of the sort and asked if they finger printed them and I asked where they were found and what made them assume they were mine. Well Ethan said he'd never seen them before and they must be mine. I truly don't know where in the car they were found and I swear they weren't mine. After weeks in jail I was bailed out, while on bail I was harassed  by the police and my life was becoming very difficult. This went on for weeks and my public defender wouldn't take my calls or return them which resulted in me missing a court date because with all the problems this caused me I lost my apartment and was staying out of town at my cousins house so with a lawyer that wouldn't communicate and not living where I'd normally have received my mail I missed court not once but twice. This wasn't intentional and each time I was released on bond with stricter and stricter conditions. All of this stress being harrassed by police, evicted and lost my job I started using heavier drugs, often, and finally I was thrown back in jail, for failing to appear because i had no place to receive my mail and a public defender who wouldn't take or return my calls. My public defender said that I couldn't get out of the possession of the pills or the failure to appears so he advised me to plead guilty to one possesion and one failure to appear, I didn't want to but after several weeks back in jail he told me if I pled guilty he could get me out. So I went in front of a judge and pled guilty. My public defender told me exactly when to agree and when to nod and say yes. The whole process couldn't have been a few minutes. I didn't have any time with my public defender before or after court. I was told to say I understood when I didn't understand and even when I wasn't in jail as I said he never had time to take my calls or return them. 

I pled guilty in front of a judge and then I was released. What would you think happened? I thought I pled for time served. After several weeks and several unsuccessful attempts to contact my public defender trying to advise him out of courtesy that I was moving out of this nightmare, I just moved. I moved in Sept 2015, after I arrived in New Hampshire my public defender actually got back in touch with me and informed me I had an upcoming court date, I explained I just moved after several weeks of trying to inform him first and now there was no way I'd make it back in time. He assured me he could get it continued and he spent so little time with me on the phone I was unsure of what I even needed to be back in court for, I pled guilty, I was released, I thought it was over and done with. Oct, Nov and Dec 2015 I was unsuccessful in contacting him. In Jan 2016 is the first time he made me entirely aware that the court I missed was for sentencing. I was in a panic, I thought my time served was my sentence. He said there was no point in coming back, at best the prosecution wanted a little probation he told me and he said my warrants were only state wide. He advised me to just stay gone and not reenter the state at that point. I was dumbfounded but I trusted what he said. And ever since I left South Dakota my life started going in a better direction, especially after I broke it off with my ex and sent her back there. 

In Feb of 2017 I was made aware that I had active warrants from South Dakota that were extraditable and not just for a possession and failure to appear but for 3 felony failure to appears, 2 possessions and a possession with intent to distribute. So for my exes prescription that i had permission to possess and some empty baggies that i never possessed I thought I served a total of approximately 3 months in jail for this 2 years ago and it also resulted in me losing my job, apartment, car and most of my belongings in 2015 so I've always felt I paid plenty for it already and was glad to rid myself of the entire state of south dakota and my terribly incompetent counsel. When he advised me over a year ago that it was behind me unless I reentered the state I believed him. Especially after being pulled over out here in New Hampshire on traffic stops and last summer I was arrested here with a marijuana pipe and was released in a couple hours I truly thought the whole thing in south dakota was behind me. I didn't "run" from anything, I haven't been "hiding". I simply moved and unknowingly missed court because of a public defender that has so many hundreds of clients he never had time to explain to me the full scope of my situation and was the constant common denominator in me ever missing any court dates and having little to no understanding of my case, charges, options or situation .

After I was arrested here in Feb 2017 I made dozens of attempts to contact my public defender in South Dakota and just as it was 2 years ago he didn't get back to me.  I made bail here because the judge and even the prosecutor here in NH saw the support I have in the community and the great need my wife and daughter have of me. I'd tried to call my public defenders office in SD 2-3 times a day and they stopped taking my messages and started hanging up the phone when their caller ID registered my phone number. All I wanted was to talk to my lawyer so he could explain why after all this time this is happening and what I should do. Finally after blocking my number and getting through to his staff I told them that i had video evidence of their behavior and refusal to take my calls and VERY shortly after my public defender graced me with a call. He informed me that if I attempted to "throw him under the bus" for missing court or the advice he gave me in Jan 2016 to stay out of south dakota and just carry on living in NH that he wouldn't hesitate to use incriminating voicemails that I left him in the months between sept 2015 through Jan 2016. 

Ive been living in NH since sept 2015, this is where i went to elementary school, high school and college. I had a small business here from 2004- 2007. After all the nightmares in Watertown I've been happy to be here living a better life. Since I've returned to NH I've only used marijuana, I met and married my wife who is now 39 weeks pregnant. I've moved out of the blue collar construction trades into a sales position and I have involved myself in church for the first time in my entire life. I've found peace and happiness and a community that believes in me and relies on me, I volunteer in the community and church, I tithe to my church for all the wonderful things they do to give back to the community. My wife and I love our town and apartment and the lives we've built together since we met. I work 7 days a week, everyone we know is connected to several churches, from my boss to my landlord to my pastor and fellow church members, we all know each other in church and the community and everyone of them has faith in me and this being a misunderstanding and I'm a victim of a terrible public defender and a nazi prosecutor that has told me he's unmoved by my guilt or innocence in the original charges, the fact is I missed court and he is looking to "bury me under the prison" for it.

I've begged this prosecutor Patrick McCaan to let me stay in NH until the birth of my daughter and I'll turn myself in. Thats not enough cooperation for him, he believes that I maliciously ran away and avoided court and he could care less if the empty baggies were mine, I missed court and he's putting me in prison for it, period. He doesn't care that I miss the birth of my daughter or that my wife will have to give birth alone without her husband, he doesn't care that she'll be evicted if I'm gone for anything more than a month or two, he doesn't care that my daughter spends the first months or years of her life without a father and a mother that'll be forced into homelessness, if fact thats his goal and its my bed to lie in. Not over some quantity of dangerous drugs, not over violence or depravity, not even over my ex girlfriends vicodin or Ethan Freih's empty drug baggies but that I missed court in 2015 he wants to DESTROY all I've built and accomplished here and remember in 2015 everything I had built in SD was DESTROYED as well. The loss of my job, apartment , car, and belongings already happened over this case and now that I've moved away and made something better out of my life he thinks it should all be taken AGAIN. For missing court that I didn't understand I missed until way after the fact with a public defender advising me to just stay out of SD.

I went 3 weeks out of work here and bail cost me over $1,000 here and I made $2,000 payment to retain different counsel in SD and after travel expenses to turn myself in to SD and after slipping behind on bills for the weeks I was in jail here and out of work I'm approaching $5,000+ in debt here over this stuff from 2015 while I have a daughter due any day. There must be much bigger and worse crimes they should be focusing on in Watertown and I haven't been given ANY incentive to cooperate, I've been assured by the prosecutor Patrick McCaaan that even if I fly out there and miss the birth of my daughter and agree to probation and cooperate in every way he'll still seek to put me in prison for as long as he can. I'm not trying to minimize my behavior or avoid my responsibilities, i've already lost everything once and spent 3 months in jail for this, what more do they want? Is someone else's vicodin and definitely someone elses empty baggies and even me missing a court date for such really worth the state of SD spending how many thousands of dollars to extradite me and how many tens of thousands to imprison me and all along the true victims will be my wife and newborn daughter who need a husband and a father emotionally, spiritually and financially to be a whole family?

I've made mistakes and I'd do anything to somehow fix this one from 2015 but I'm a different person now and my wife will be homeless in 60 days or less with a newborn without me here to provide. I'm planning to turn myself in right after my daughter is born, the day after my daughter is born we should be rejoicing in joy and happiness but i'll be on a flight to SD to turn myself in, My new lawyer has only been paid enough to facilitate turning me in and arguing for keeping my pleas in place for one possession and one failure to appear and try to get me as much probation transferred back here to NH asap but if I need her to represent me further I'll have to pay more money that I can NOT raise unless I'm free and working In NH. If  had $10,000 for an attorney I've basically been told its much more possible to fight this from the beginning and with that kind of money I could win my freedom. Well we don't have it and if anyone reading this has any authority to do anything to help my wife, daughter and I please bless us with your help because Lord knows we need it right now. We are terrified and going rapidly in debt while the happiest most joyful months of our newborns life is going to be spent with me rotting in a jail cell while my wife panics daily as to how many weeks, months or years it is until I come home when 2 months is the longest she can hold on to our apartment, car and lives without me. I'm no angel but how much more do I need to pay, how much more do my wife and newborn have to pay and for what exactly? Empty baggies that WEREN"T mine! Vicodin that WASN'T mine and LEGALLY my exgf's and of course the ultimate sin, I missed court but but because my lawyer wouldn't contact ME! not the other way around. Please help us, please!!

When I was arrested in NH for these warrants in SD my wife, Chelsey called the prosecutor Patrick McCaan 3 times. She made him aware of her pregnancy and how far along she was and she made him aware of the lifestyle I lead now and how much she relies on me. Each time the conversation ended with her in tears. She begged for him to understand our situation and she begged him to believe that if given the chance to appear in court she was positive that I would show up. Mr McCann was rude and blatantly threatened my wife with the fact that he aimed to put me in prison. She talked with him at length about the changes I've made in my life and he was unmoved and told her " your husband was a serious criminal in Watertown" she said that she knew otherwise and even if I had been I'm not one now and I'm leading a good life now and with her pregnancy the timing of all of this is terrible and the whole thing is really unfortunate. He agreed that it was unfortunate but " Scott made his bed and I'm going to see to it that he lies in it" In all 3 of their conversations he made it clear to her, which I fail to see any benefit in, that he was not only pursuing me but seeking a lengthy prison sentence. My wife diligently defended my character and argued against his opinion, politely, while being intimidated and threatened to tears each time.

After I made bail I called Mr McCaan. In fact I spoke with him about a half dozen times in a 7-10 period. He accepted every call from me and the strange thing is I must of attempted to call my public defender over two dozen times over the course of the same 7-10 days and I was unable to get in touch with him. Patrick McCaan never advised me that I shouldn't speak to him, he listened to my side and took every call. During one call he kept repeating that my old self was coming out. I wasn't arguing, cursing or yelling. I was completely even toned and calm but if I had been standing face to face with him he gave the impression that his body language would've been  aggressive like he would've been flinching at me almost or bumping chests and I was simply explaining that I disagreed with his unwillingness to allow me to stay in NH for the birth of my daughter, while calmly speaking he kept interrupting by saying "look, look your old self is coming out, you haven't changed. I'm coming for you and you're going away." I questioned what he meant, " how's my old self coming out? I'm not being vulgar, disrespectful or hostile in anyway, I'm disagreeing with your belief that locking me up is beneficial to anyone in anyway". In every conversation he literally said things like " I'm coming for you with an iron fist" and " I'm going to bury you under the prison for missing court". 

The strangest thing to me was when I told him I retained a lawyer he stopped taking my calls and refused to speak to me any further. If being represented makes it somehow unethical for him to speak to me then how did he figure talking to me in the first place was ok when he knew I was represented by a public defender? So obviously there's a big difference between being technically represented and properly represented. There were several more disturbing aspects of my conversations with him but I feel compelled to mention these and I wish I could more clearly convey how it felt like being bullied on the school yard. After every call my wife and I were unsettled and just flat out scared. Some of it would've been almost comical but over shadowed with what the outcome could actually be it abruptly lost any comedic affect.

Signed// Scott Lane


This link is to a video Scott sent: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-ThQcB-Ky_yjG6havzqForoxNtKF4bZGZQ/view

Apology to the judge in Watertown SD

 

Below are a series of character reference letters from folks Scott has around him now.

 

Below are pix of Scott and Chelsey's nursery.