“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. ” – Jimmy Carter
“The Good Ole' BoysNetwork” was the most transformative portion of my life and makes a lot of things I've done after seem sensible. As guitar players, there was guitar before Eddie Van Halen and after.
The Good Ole' Boy Network was my Van Halen moment.
I've been listening to Grant Cardone's self-help books. He describes a lady who gets hit from behind by a car. That's not her fault, right? Maybe if she left earlier, took a different street, it would've never happened? It sounds crass, but I think there's some truth to it.
My case was much simpler, I shouldn't have had the drugs in my pocket in South Georgia, but it didn't have to get this bad.
It's everybody's fault but mine, I mean nobody's fault but mine.
For better or worse, here it goes…
It all started 9/11/1997.
I was driving from Atlanta to Savannah, to play with a band I performed with occasionally called “The Spo-its“, who was about to embark on a tour of the East Coast to New York. I had a quarter of weed and four hits of acid for personal use.
On a barren stretch of I16 in the town of Soperton (yes, it was actually called Soperton) in Treutlen County, GA. I looked in my rearview mirror to see a police car with hidden flashing lights mounted in the grill signaling me to pull over. I thought, “This is going to be one short vacation.”
I crotched the drugs, but the cop must have had some sugar in his tank since he put his hand down my pants on the side of the highway, because, as he would later say in court “I had a noticeable bulge.”
It wasn't long before the big-bad-ass sheriff, Wayne “Gator” Hooks sped up in a second police car and left me handcuffed in the brütal Georgia heat for two hours while they searched my truck, including removing the tires.
They took me to the police station, charged me with felony possession of LSD, possession of marijuana, speeding, and DUI even though I was sober.
After spending the first night in jail. The sheriff introduced me to his bondsman buddy, who is more than happy to get me out of jail if I could raise the cash ($4000 on a $6000 bail – the max allowed by law is 10%). I called a buddy in Atlanta, and he brought the money down. I spent the night in jail, they confiscated my truck, took the 4k, gave me no paperwork, and let me out the next day. I only wanted to get the fuck out of there, so I paid the bond and left the truck.
1997 to 1998 go by without ever hearing from law-enforcement in South Georgia.
I start thinking: Was this a payoff? If so, that's cool.
Boy, was I wrong!
Late at night in March 1998, I get a call from the bondsman asking if I would be in court the next day. I tell him this is the first I’ve heard in two years, he then tells me he will call me back, and 10 minutes later he says “it was a mistake”, but I needed to come to sign some “continuance forms”.
I went there a few days later, took two steps in the police station, and got locked up for failure to appear, “forfeited” my 4k bail and my truck. I didn't get a phone call until a week later. I would spend the next month in the Treutlen County Jail.
BooOn a referral from one of the inmates, I hired some local lawyer. He goes to the post office and finds the letter sent summoning me to court was still in the outbox stamped “not deliverable to this address”.
Sherriff Wayne Hooks had been running this scam for years. They would arrest people, charge outrageous bail bonds, their cousin at the post office would tamper with the mail, you’d miss court, they’d keep your money, and THEN run you through the meat grinder of justice! To which end, you would wind up doing slave labor picking up trash for the county!
Slavery is still alive and well in the Deep South.
It's called the prison system.
After another month in jail, I finally get a court appearance, and my lawyer showed the envelope to the judge. The judge sets me free on another $10,000 bail. Despite the protest of Wayne “Gator” Hooks, who was doing more talking than the District Attorney.
That day, the DA offered me a plea “bargain” of 10 years probation and 7000 dollars in fines just for the LSD. Even though that was a long stretch of probation, I was cool with it because it didn't involve going to prison. My lawyer advised me to plead “not guilty” because so much fucked up shit had happened, that I might be able to get off on a technicality.
While awaiting my next court date, my lawyer sends a letter to the bondsman reminding him of his math, and the maximum he's allowed to charge for a bond is 10%. All of a sudden, out of the blue my truck and money are returned, less 10%.
After some legal wrangling, it’s time to go back to court, and I’ve realized that there is no way to do anything to defend yourself legally in Soperton’s “Good Ole Boy Network” so I ought to accept the ten-year plea. Oddly enough, after getting my money back, all of a sudden the prosecutor has changed and (according to them) the plea deal never existed.
The new DA wants to “give me five years” or except his “new plea agreement” of ten years of probation, $8,000 in fines and a year in prison. I pleaded guilty and was handed over to the Georgia Department of Corrections on February 2, 1999.
I began my stint in Twin City, GA and started working on the chain gang.
I never understood the concept. How does it serve the interest of public safety to send 12 pissed off felons back into the community armed with sickles and axes? Only being supervised by unarmed correction officer? I seriously considered cutting his head off and going home more than once.
On my fourth week there I broke my right foot. It was so bad other inmates helped carry me inside, the next morning I couldn't even stand up. I went to medical and after a brief examination, the nurse said “I was faking it” and sent me back to work.
I was the Mel Gibson of South Georgia. Pushing a heavy lawn mower eight hours a day with a broken foot, with poisonous water moccasins sliding across my boots, while sadistic corrections officers sat in the shade, chewing tobacco, and threatening “to send me to the hole” if I didn’t pick up the pace.
The next day my foot had swollen so severely put on my shoe. Again I went to medical, only to be told that there was nothing wrong with me. This repeated for a week until they excused me from work detail. Instead, each day, I was forced to sit in a chair facing a wall for nine hours a day – no reading, no sleeping. It was Chinese water torture. Honestly, I preferred the chain gang.
Three weeks later they finally sent me for an X-Ray at Reidsville Maximum Security Prison (death row), and it confirmed every one of my metatarsal bones in my foot was split in half. To this day, I walk with the pronounced limp, thanks to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
After a few weeks, disaster struck again, because someone left a burning cigarette in the trash. I was the first to spot it, so I was attempting to put the fire out. The room was still blue with smoke when the corrections officers made the whole dorm line up and explained everyone would get punished unless someone came forward. A group of the black inmates decided to finger the white guy and offered written statements that I started the fire with a cigarette. The funny thing is, I absolutely HATE cigarettes!
After the warden read the accounts, I was sent to 24-hour solitary lockdown for starting the fire. While in the hole, the director came in and explained that he was planning on revoking the remainder of my probation and sending me to prison for destruction of state property.
In spite of my mounting troubles, I liked “the hole”. I got caught up on my masturbation, and I didn't have to deal with the other idiots. I found the key to doing prison time was keeping to yourself and not interacting with anyone, so this was perfect. After about a week in the hole, you begin to forget if it’s night or day. You are in a room with a steel bed, a toilet, a sink, and an intercom that would go to the main control room just in case you tried to commit suicide. Occasionally, I would get on the intercom, in what I thought was the middle of the night and did my best radio announcer voice:
“Good evening and thanks for listening to H-O-L-E Radio being broadcast from lovely segregation unit #2 here in scenic Twin Cities. Today in the news: well, we have no idea what happened. In sports: who cares? Today’s weather: I have no idea because I haven’t been outside. The weather in the hole is a balmy 90 degrees and will remain that way for the rest of today, next week, and next year and now for a brief selection from Kenny G doing ‘Just the Two of Us’.”
Then a voice would blare back through the intercom “Shut the fuck up”, but what the hell are they going to do? Throw me in the hole? After a week and a half, some of the white inmates finally came forward and signed statements that I wasn’t the one who started the fire, and I was let out. I spent the last month of my sentence dealing with usual daily slavery.
In July of 1999, I got out of prison and was picked up by my girlfriend. I returned to ATL life as normal, only now under the looming threat of probation. That meant: no drinking, no drugs, no leaving the state, no arrests, no fights, no bars, and keep an average job – none of which I was willing to do.
It made life pretty complicated. In the weeks that passed, a strain in my relationship with my girlfriend seemed to develop. We weren’t getting along. When one of my best friends came over to tell me he’d been fucking her the whole time I was incarcerated, I realized why!
I was outraged. I couldn’t get past the hatred I had for the world. By my admission, I had turned into a raging psychopath. Even my friends were scared of me, but I couldn’t they would stab me in the back. Now are was living in a place I despised, but unable to move because of probation.
I've learned since; hate is like a bag of bricks, all you need to do is put it down. It took me a minute, but I forgave them both. I am friends with them to this very day.
The only positive thing that happened during that time was I started to get more involved as an affiliate with the adult Internet, which was in its infancy at the time. There will be more on that later. When I went to prison, I had placed two links to porn sites on my band's website and had a check for $140 when I got out. I figured if I could make money while imprisoned, imagine what I could do if I applied myself!
To be candid, during this period my chief source of income was selling drugs. If you lived in Atlanta and needed weed, coke, or ecstasy – I was your man. That's the thing about being a convicted felon. You are no longer suitable for a proper job, so your only option is a life of crime. Over time, the money from online porn started to rise, so I stopped selling drugs. After two years of completing the “administrative” part of my probation, I was switched to “unsupervised” probation, meaning: No more visits, fines, or drug tests – just don’t get arrested.
That was all dandy until July of 2002.
During this period, I had kept my story of Treutlen County posted on the Internet, hoping somebody with power would read it and finally bring some heat down on those corrupt rednecks. That never happened, but someone was reading: Sheriff Wayne Hooks himself.
Unbeknownst to me, Sheriff Hooks had problems too. He'd been charged criminally with a Federal violation of civil rights for almost beating some guys to death in front of a crowd of townies at a Waffle House. Wayne needed to get anything off the Internet that would make his case worse. Some clever prosecutor managed to move the trial venue to the county next to Treutlen County were Sheriff Hooks didn't operate in a power vacuum.
In July of 2001, I get a summons from Treutlen County in the mail telling me I need there in 3 days. I had no idea why they would want to fuck with me after this much time. I knew one thing I couldn’t do in three days: Pass A Drug Test! Ironically, marijuana which is the least harmful drug takes the longest to metabolize.
Knowing I would surely be pissing in a cup, I tried to get it postponed to no avail. I wanted to have a lawyer with me, as I already know these cretins in South Georgia don’t play fair! I sought the advice of an Atlanta lawyer. He told me it would be better not to show up at all, if the test would be dirty, which made sense to me.
The day I was supposed to go there, I drug tested myself, which came back clean (surprisingly). I went on the lam because there was now a warrant out for my arrest. I spent the next six weeks sleeping in my van, stripper’s apartments, bars, and offices.
I finally heard back from my lawyer. He tells me that he spoke with the judge and that it was fine to reschedule the probation. I go back to my apartment for the first time in six weeks. That night, the Atlanta police busted my backdoor in to serve the warrant for probation violation. They haul me off to the Dekalb County jail.
The next morning, Sheriff Hooks himself picks me up to take me on the 300-mile drive back to Soperton. He was facing his trial that week. Needless to say, that 4-hour drive was surreal. I was preparing for him to pull the car to the side of the road and beat me to death.
As soon as I get to the Treutlen County Jail, the probation officer piss tests me, but I am clean. On August 22nd, Wayne Hooks is convicted on felony federal deprivation of human rights charges, gets house arrest and has to resign from law enforcement. Ironically I am watching the court proceedings on the news from the television set at his jail.
After six weeks, I got to go to court for probation violation. They charged me with refusal to submit to a drug test and failure to report. My lawyers asked why Treutlen Probation felt compelled to call. They produced a printed page of what I'd written about the corrupt sheriff and a picture of the “Bigger Than Ron Jeremy” CD, which depicts me doing a line of sugar off our drummer's head as reasons to think I've been violating my probation.
I manage to get the refusal to take a drug test dropped, but they stuck me on the failure to report. The judge sentenced me to a year of supervised probation back in Atlanta.
In big city Atlanta, the probation officers have better things to do. When I first met with my new probation officer, she couldn’t believe that I had been given ten years to start with and placed me on write-in probation.
By this time, my Internet affiliate career was flourishing. I was making more money than I knew how to spend. The band had broken up, I wasn’t selling drugs and didn’t have a girlfriend. Other than probation; there wasn’t anything tying me to Atlanta.
I needed to go.
Durning those next few months, I was offered a chance to be a partner in an affiliate program in Califonia. I flew out to LA and accepted the offer. I flew back to pack up and leave. Keep in mind, I still have five years of probation, and I’m not supposed to leave the state!
In my last few weeks in Atlanta, I set up an elaborate series of fake voicemail boxes, bogus addresses, fake IDs, and phony employers — just in case probation ever comes to call.
Spring, 2003 I am out in California full time.
Now, every time I go to the DMV, get a traffic ticket, or leave the country – I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, and get dragged back to Soperton! Yes, I knew I was breaking the law, but if a man's average lifespan is seventy years, there is no way I am giving these rednecks one out of every seven days on Earth over a stupid drug charge!
You have got to live! Damnit!
In spite of everything, on February 7th, 2009, I finished ten years of probation! I couldn’t believe it. I had beat the system. In March 2008, I had my official “Off Probation” party, and I was free — finally free!
Or was I?