Archive for Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Police activity, arrests increase at Wakarusa

June 13, 2006


Wearing flip-flops and an Ithaca College T-shirt, 20-year-old Max Winer arrived at the Douglas County Jail Monday afternoon to wait for a friend to have his first court appearance.

His friend had been arrested Friday morning, the second day of the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival at Clinton State Park, after being caught smoking marijuana at his camp site.

An officer also found psilocybin mushrooms in his friend's backpack, Winer said.

"I feel horrible. He's been in there since Friday," Winer said. "He missed all the music. It's kind of been the trip from hell. ... I'm not coming back to Kansas ever again."

It was just one piece of the legal aftermath that awaits now that the four-day festival has ended.

According to Douglas County Jail records, more than 80 people from 28 states were arrested on alcohol and drug violations during the festival, which police had warned would be more heavily patrolled than in past years.

Steve Robson of Ace Bail Bonds estimated he'd written between 10 and 15 bonds during the weekend and earned about $5,000 in commissions.

Typically, the people arrested were out-of-state residents who judges consider a higher risk for not appearing in court, so Robson required them or their parents to put the entire amount of the bond upfront on a credit card, plus his 10 percent fee, he said.

"If they go to court, they get to keep their money," he said. "If they don't, I just pay the court."

Robson said two of his clients had had their cars impounded because of the civil forfeiture laws associated with drug-dealing crimes.

"I talked to several kids that lost $800 or $900 they had on them" through drug-money seizures, he said.

So many people were arrested that prosecutors have arranged for a special docket at 1:30 p.m. Friday to formally charge many of them.

"I would say we've probably seen a doubling of the arrests from last year. That's just off-hand," Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said. "We knew that there was going to be a bulge coming through the system."

In all, police arrested or removed 144 people from the park during the weekend, but not all of those were arrested and booked into jail.

Some of the details of the arrests:

¢ At least 25 of those arrested had a marijuana-related charge.

¢ 12 had an LSD-related charge.

¢ Six had a cocaine-related charge.

¢ 47 people were arrested for being a minor in possession of alcohol. In most cases, officers from the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control made the arrest. At first, they were given $100 bonds, but on Friday afternoon, prosecutors decided to let all people arrested for underage drinking out of jail without having to post bond money up front.

"We were afraid, in consulting with the sheriff's department, that they were going to start to be looking at some capacity issues," Branson said. "I didn't want someone sitting in jail with an MIP."

¢ Those arrested came from the following states: Kansas (14), Missouri (9), Wisconsin (8), Colorado (7), Oklahoma (6), Illinois (5), New Mexico (4), Iowa (3), New Jersey (3), New York (3), Vermont (2), Pennsylvania (2), Kentucky (2), Nebraska (2), Mississippi (2), Georgia (2), West Virginia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Montana, Connecticut, California, Indiana, North Carolina and Louisiana (1 each).

Apparently, many people didn't get the message law enforcement had sent out before the festival: Leave the illegal drugs at home.

"It's been this way since the '60s. It's the same type of people," Winer said. "They want to enhance their musical experience, so they'll do what they will."

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

"so Robson required them or their parents to put the entire amount of the bond upfront on a credit card, plus his 10 percent fee, he said."

If they're putting the entire amount up front, what do they need a bondsman for?

mom_of_three 12 years ago

The guy's friend smoked an illegal drug, got caught, so they're not coming back to Kansas again.


yen721 12 years ago

Reply to bozo:

It is actually a very wise move on these parents' part to use a bondsman to pay full bond + 10% rather than paying the bail directly to the court.

If you pay bail/cash bond to the court, you are not absolutely guaranteed that you get the entire amount of your bail back when the case is closed and all paperwork is completed. Some of that money will be absorbed by the court to cover court costs, fees, etc. If the parents (or whomever it is that is acting as co-signer/payer on the bond) wants to assure that they get all of their money back after all is said and done, the best move to make is to hire a bondsman. This way, the defendant is responsible for his own court costs, fees, etc.

Let's say that your bail is $1,000 and court costs/fees are $300...

You can pay the $1,000 bail directly to the court (plus a sheriff's fee if after hours), go to court, wait a few weeks until all necessary paperwork is completed by the court, and then recieve a check in the mail for $700 after the $300 fees/fines are absorbed.

Or, you can have mommy pay the bondsman $1,100, go to court, wait a few gets a check back for $1,000 and you are responsible to pay your own fees/fines when they are established in court.

If mommy intends on paying for all of your mistakes, though, a bondsman really is an unnecessary step in the process.

conservative 12 years ago

I'm not familiar with the intricacies of bonding, but I'd imagine the court probably doesn't take VISA, so if the only way they could come up with the money was on a credit card a bondsman who accepts credit cards might be their only alternative.

Confrontation 12 years ago

I love that these criminals say they're not coming back to Kansas. However, you can't really expect them to stick to their words.

Andrew Walker 12 years ago

I agree with mom_of_three and Confrontation... Kansas would be soooo much better if everyone who ever did anything illegal here would stay out forever.

Mike Birch 12 years ago

Do yourself a favor! Plead "Not Guilty" on the

possession of psilocybin mushrooms. In order for the

mushrooms to be admissable in court as evidence they

have to be tested and proven to be what the police

claim they are. To do this, a chemist must perform an

extract on the mushrooms, which can't be done! Then

the chemist has to testify in court that the substance

tested positive for psilocybin mushrooms. I know a

chemist who works for the KBI and does their drug

testing. He says it can't be done so just plead not

guilty and don't plead guilty to a lesser charge either!


brfts 12 years ago

Some of you are so lame"good they're not coming back to Kansas again" So what if they smoked a little pot. It's people like you that is the reason Kansas is the laughing stock of the country. I don't blame them for not coming back to such a bigoted state as Kansas.

marfle7 12 years ago


More like Whiner, hea hea.

If you do the crime, then don't complain when you have to do the time. Doing something illegal means you have to deal with the punishment if you get caught. Didn't we learn this in second grade? There's nothing wrong with Kansas; it's the potheads driving around trying to kill people that cause problems. Mr. Whiner doesn't need to come back; Lawrence would be better off without him.

meggers 12 years ago

"There's nothing wrong with Kansas; it's the potheads driving around trying to kill people that cause problems."

That has to be the funniest thing I've heard in a long while.

Just as a reminder, the folks having their vehicles searched were on ther way TO the festival, where most of them were planning to be camped for four days. The folks AT the festival were already camped and going nowhere. Granted, pot is illegal, but it is certainly much more benign than the booze served at the local VFW or Elks Club. And it's infinitely safer than the guns that many Last Call patrons like to pack.

James Crady 12 years ago

I can't even believe what I am reading. I am a retired festival goer and I ask one simple question.

What were the police doing inside the festival grounds anyway????? That is the travesty of it all. Meggers is right. It is a camping festival for arts, music, and experiences of the mind.

I write to you from the land that invented this type of festival. And this is how it should go. The police should take care of traffic around the festival, get paid there fee, the local business' should get a boost on over priced ice and such things, the vendors should not have money seized as "drug money" and everything will be fine.

In the High Sierras the small tourist local towns can't wait for the yearly festivals. They make a ton of money, the fairground makes money, the hippies get high and the police never, ever come inside festival grounds. These are simple festival rules so if Mosiman can't keep the cops out and keep concert goers from being searched as they come in then say bye, bye to your wonderful weekend of music because once the word is out in festival culture the Waka fest will be no more. Just check the next few issues of RELIX or surf the other festival sites. The word will get out and Larryville will miss out on some great live music over the next few years.

It makes me glad I left Kansas and my hometown when I read the same stuff that happened back in the OMEGA days is still happening today.

Sad, very sad. It will read something like you could go to Wakarusa next year, but you better really love music cause you may get arrested, die from the humidity, get eaten alive by chiggers, and leave with no summer tour money you saved all year for cause oh by the way your tour money is considered drug money in Kansas.

What a joke. I am glad California is my home nowdays because I sure won't tell any of my old festival buddies I was born in the land of Wakarusa.

marfle7 12 years ago

You don't have to go to the Wakarusa Festival to smoke pot and drive, "meggers". Boo hoo if you can't smoke your pot in public. You don't need to get high to enjoy music; you need an excuse to get high. And guns don't kill, idiots do.

meggers 12 years ago


I don't smoke pot, but I know plenty of good, decent people who do. For me, it just isn't my bag. One doesn't have to engage in a particular activity to accept that it might be enjoyable or even medically beneficial for others. Freedom of choice and all that. With that said, I probably consumed more legal beer at the festival than my friends who stuck to weed- guess who would have been more of a hazard on the roadways?

As far as folks not needing to get high to listen to music, I think 90% of the folks at the festival would agree with you, myself included. It's a fact that sometimes recreational activities tend to complement each other- kind of like beer and football. Perhaps you should announce to a stadium full of Chiefs fans that they shouldn't drink alcohol while watching the game, because they don't "need it" to enjoy the sport. I don't think they would appreciate the implication that they are just a bunch of no-good drunks who can't enjoy a ball game without drinking.

The Waka fest is not only about great music, it's also about getting way from the mainstream and slowing down to actually enjoy it. I can't tell you the number of incredible people I've met at music festivals. Some (legally) earn $60,000+ per year, while others barely have enough gas money and food to make it to the next show. Most all of them are good, kind-hearted people who just want to enjoy some incredible music, take in some nature, and have a fantastic adventure with their friends- all while meeting tons of people from different walks of life. Drugs are no more the focus than what type of snacks people brought to munch on. I wouldn't say that if we were talking about meth, crack, and other addictive substances known to inspire violence. Some of that crap might be there somewhere, but I have a feeling those cases are highly isolated, as I've never run into it, despite attending a good number of festivals.

I agree that guns alone don't kill people, but throw in some alcohol and hip-hop and that gun becomes infinitely more dangerous to the owner and the people around him/her.

jnick84 12 years ago

pablo94: The police were there b/c it's a state park, not private land. Good read though, but I have to disagree with a lot of what you said.

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