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Yellow House owners arrested on gun charge

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After a year-long investigation into what police alleged was a sophisticated stolen-goods fencing operation, the owners of a used-appliance shop have been arrested and charged in federal court- but with a charge related to drug usage and gun possession, not stolen property.An [indictment (PDF)][1] unsealed today from U.S. Atty. Eric Melgren's office charges both Guy S. Neighbors and his wife, Carrie Neighbors, with one count of possessing firearms while they "were unlawful users of a controlled substance." Both were arrested today, according to Melgren's office.The indictment claims that the couple possessed four handguns, four rifles, and three shotguns on or about Dec. 2, 2005, the day Lawrence Police served the first of a series of search warrants at both the store, 1904 Mass., and at the Neighbors' home in the 1100 block of Andover St. One of the searches of the Neighbors' home turned up marijuana plants.At the outset of the case, a Lawrence police spokesman said the first search warrants served in December 2005 were part of a two-month investigation into "one of the largest, most sophisticated fencing operations" police had seen, involving stolen goods sold both in the Lawrence area and through the Internet.In the past year, the Neighbors have been vocal in their criticism of police, claiming they were unfairly singled out for the investigation. They claimed that Lawrence police posed as FBI agents while interviewing witnesses- an allegation the FBI said was unfounded - and during one of the searches of the store, legal interns for their attorney picketed in front of the shop with signs including one that read, "Investigate police corruption."Most recently, Guy Neighbors said earlier this month that he had filed a formal complaint against Lawrence Police alleging that officers had come to the store and begun to question his wife without her attorney present.-contributed by [Eric Weslander.][2] [1]: http://media.ljworld.com/pdf/2006/12/neighbors_indictment.pdf [2]: http://www2.ljworld.com/staff/eric_weslander

Comments

Bill Chapman 8 years ago

As a former neighbor of a LPD lieutenant (who I will refer to as LT), I have little to no respect for the LPD - LT would come home and almost immediately began to yell at his/her sons after entering the house. Thing is - I was able to hear him/her from inside his/her house (in the middle of summer, with their A/C on), while working in my bike in my parents garage. The type of language being used most likely would have gotten him/her thrown out of some of the seedier roadside bars and clubs I've been in. In my opinion, LT was one of the most idiotic morons I have EVER meant!

I have meant Guy and Carrie many times (my dad used to work with him before Yellowhouse was ever opened), and they never took advantage of ANYONE that I know of. In fact, Guy loaned his truck (it had a johnnylift) to my dad so we could help a friend of ours move that the Neighbors didn't even know without even asking for a rental/usage fee. Try asking someone to loan you a truck worth $40,000 + without a deposit or rent and see what you you hear.

Yellowhouse was a very simple business - they bought other peoples' sutff, fixed it up (if they could), and tried to sell it for a profit. Yellowhouse was NOT a pawnshop, and they NEVER bought any stolen goods. There aren't many pawnshops that can make that claim. For a while Guy had a side business of moving/delivering appliences for a fee, but he quit doing that.

As far as I'm concerned the LPD has once again slipped and accidently put head up a$$.

Darth_Vader 8 years ago

Roses are red, Violets are Blue If I worked at Yellow House I'd do drugs too.

meanbean101 8 years ago

it's pretty insensitive that people are joking around about this situation considering how it will hugely impact their childs life. I wonder how he feels having the entire town and his whole school constantly talking about/making light of their familys plight. I also hope and pray that these people don'tgo to jail for his sake. Although this family may just be a couple of criminals,or just a newsstory to you, they are his parents and this is his life.

Hawkman 8 years ago

well meanbean.....Everyone makes choices..some good, some bad....but you have to live with each of them and sometimes paybacks are hell.

achtung 8 years ago

...couldn't happen to a better family this community needs to figure out a way to protect its best. as a former employee, i honestly say i've never worked for a more understanding, appreciative, and generous couple. community leaders, foster parents, hard workers... yeah lawrence, make an example of these criminals. what a crock!

guesswho 8 years ago

Way too many people make bad choices and don't get caught. This family has made a lot of good choices that aren't in the news.

I didn't interpret Marion's comments as making fun of the situation, but predicting what the law enforcement will do.

Of course, we probably shouldn't get into whether these laws are worthwhile......

TheGoldenBoy 8 years ago

Federally indicted for having a marijuana plant and some handguns. WTF is world coming too!

oldgoof 8 years ago

Regarding federal charges of marijuana with firearms, this headline from last week. This is ridiculous: . .

Man sentenced to 55 years for marijuana charges

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the mandatory 55-year prison sentence that a lower court imposed on a man who was convicted of carrying a handgun during three marijuana deals in Utah.

By refusing to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court ensured that 27-year-old Weldon Angelos will spend just about the rest of his life behind bars for selling three eight-ounce bags of marijuana to an undercover informant.

As his attorneys noted, the sentence he will serve is harsher than the sentence for raping a child - or the sentence for detonating a bomb aboard an aircraft.

Even the federal judge who was required to issue the mandatory minimum sentence called it "unjust, cruel, and even irrational." Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court let the sentence stand without comment.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years ago

Any smart criminal (or business man) would research the pros and cons of his actions prior to indulging in them. You review the law and see the potential prison sentence for growing weed and having guns around, then you decide if it's all worth it. Guess it was to these idiots. I won't accept the argument that they didn't know the risks. If they are smart enough to run a business and set up a highly effective fencing operation, they are smart enough to know what will happen when they get busted. They had it coming.

What kind of business can I open in the Yellow Door retail space now? Hmmm.....

Baille 8 years ago

WTF!

I assume they smoked a little dope while being gun owners. What a crock. Government is out of control when it comes to drug usage. This is a public health issue. It is not an issue for law enforcement.

It is one thing to say that people have to live with the choices they make, but we as citizens are responsible for this failed policy. Federal drug laws are draconian. They need to change.

BTW, I went to an event where Melgren was defending the Patriot Act a few years back. He wasn't even vaguely familar with the history of the FISA court. It was kind of fun to watch him squirm under the the onslaught of questions from informed law students.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years ago

Posted by meanbean101 (anonymous) on December 12, 2006 at 2:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

it's pretty insensitive that people are joking around about this situation considering how it will hugely impact their childs life. I wonder how he feels having the entire town and his whole school constantly talking about/making light of their familys plight. I also hope and pray that these people don'tgo to jail for his sake. Although this family may just be a couple of criminals,or just a newsstory to you, they are his parents and this is his life.


Come on, meanbean101! What, now we don't send people to jail because they have kids. That's a great idea! Let's teach the kids that they can conduct illegal activities and get away with it. Plus, pretty soon we will have every criminal having kids as an out from prison! Great, great philosophy.

Alternative - let the kid see what the penalty is for being a stupid criminal and let him be a better person than his parents for it.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years ago

Hey Baille! They were growing pot in their house, not just smoking it. That should also spark a new child welfare case too, shouldn't it. All these excuses. Let me guess, you have pot and own a gun? Or just run a fencing operation?

cutny 8 years ago

Disgusting abuse of power by the LPD...big surprise. I liked the people, I liked the store, and the cops have been after them for years for their so-called "most sophisticated fencing operation" we've ever seen. Well, you see what happens when the police can't solve a $30 laundromat "robbery" and turn their deficient attention elsewhere. By the way, I think that was one of the most sophisticated $30 rip-offs of a laundromat, that I had ever seen. Film at 11.

jennifermarti 8 years ago

I agree maybe they should have been the ones thinking about the welfare of their child. Instead they were breaking the law and using drugs!

funkdog1 8 years ago

What the heck did the Yellow House folks do to someone on the police force to be harrassed like this? It's like the cops were absolutely determined to bring these people down, one way or another. As far as the pot goes, c'mon...this town is so awash in dope that most of the time, the cops just turn the other way.

Bradley Kemp 8 years ago

I've heard a lot of people suggest that the Lawrence police were out to get this couple in one way or another.

Why was that so?

conservative 8 years ago

Well from what I've heard from most people the Neighbors were criminals and it was fairly well known. As a result I'm sure the police were looking for a way to take them down.

Baille 8 years ago

Hey, IHOVP! Ok. Doesn't change the fact that our drug policy is a miserable failure. We haven't decreased the demand. We haven't touched the supply. We haven't done crap except put thousands of people in jail. I am tired of paying for it.

If the Neighbors are running a fencing operation then they should be arrested and jailed. If their kids are in danger of being abused or neglected, SRS should step in.

But that doesn't change the fact that our drug laws are insane. How is owning a gun and growing pot inherently evil? It is not. It is malum prohibitum and we have options on how we choose to address the issue. I would propose that our current drug laws are the wrong approach. We treat drug users as if they were malum in se, inherently evil. This is not true. Drugs users are not inherently evil. Their conduct is not inherently evil. They are not of necessity rapists. They are not of necessity murderers. They are not inhrently evil people. Yet we treat them as if they were.

We treat the mentally ill the same way. We throw these people in jail. We throw them away when what we should be doing is helping them get better.

Moving on to more perosnal matters, let's assume for a moment that you just weren't being a petty anus: I don't smoke dope. I don't run a fencing operation. I have no relationship with the Neighbors other than about an hour-long encounter several years ago. But I have seen first-hand on a professional level what our drug laws do to people and families. I have seen law enforcement use drug laws to fill its coffers. I have seen these laws used to disproportionately punish those believed to be guilty of other crimes under the unreasonable sentences mandated by the federal govenrment. I have watched families in crisis whose parents were struggling to regain balance so that they could get their kids back from the state torn apart because the parents had to serve some ungodly long sentence for what amounts to a health issue.

Our drug laws do not work. They need to change.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years ago

Blah, blah, blah, Marion.

Baille, regardless of how effective the laws are it is illegal to grow weed and possess firearms and fence. Just the weed charge alone (which we know is valid from this story) should be cause for concern for a child welfare case. It's black and white. Same with the combination of guns and drugs. I don't necessarily agree with the sentence imposed for this, but it sure has implications on how the child is being raised and it is obvious that they are knowingly breaking the law. I'm just arguing that they have obvious guilt in numerous areas. Can't fault the cops for that. Regardless of the fencing accusations.

You can't not throw them in jail only because they have a child. That's not good logic.

guesswho 8 years ago

Drug laws have always been written with ulterior motives behind them. The drugs that kill the most are legal: alcohol and tobacco. Most drug laws have racial and/or economic undertones, often based on the racial or ethnic group who used that drug: Mexicans used pot (and the Hearst corporation didn't want competition for paper products), Blacks used cocaine (and now crack cocaine, often a drug of choice for inner-city blacks have disproportionate sentencing terms), opium (heroin) used to be legal and the drug of choice for middle-class white women, until lots of Chinese immigrants started using it.

The punishment for growing a few pot plants really is quite insane. And having a few guns? These aren't uzis, and our state legislature is quite pro-gun, as evidenced by the recent concealed handgun law.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years ago

It is right to teach a child to stand up for their rights and fight for justice. It is right to teach them that their voice can be heard if they speak loud enough. It is not right to teach a child that they can simply ignore laws that they feel aren't ideal. It is not right to teach them that they can conduct themselves illegally and expect no punishment. The latter is what this child is learning from their parents.

pelliott 8 years ago

people make bad choices, Olson. The culture of the department starts at the top. A lot of decent cops are watching the department spend the currency of community support. That support comes from the decent and it should be said, brave, men and women who do protect and serve. It is being spent by the few that want to rule and bully, and I think rob. They rob people of rights and a lot of time, property. They do not need a conviction to take property if "suspected' illegal activities are involve. How did it get there, most people don't think it will be their turn. It is too bad. I remember that one cop explained why they leaned on one guy to plead, even though it was obvious that the charge was bogus. He said " if you can get paper on them, then later if they do something you can put them away". A lot of drug enforcement is to control certain populations. Another words, if they aren't "the right kind of people" we want to be able to control them.

webmocker 8 years ago

Even the police and judges on the frontlines are saying it's time to legalize drugs:

http://www.leap.cc/

driley 8 years ago

Doesn't make sense when there are stores downtown that sell bongs and hallucinatory mushrooms that they choose to look the other way and make such examples of these people.

Should be all or none, don't you think?

Bradley Kemp 8 years ago

Marion:

But what did these people do to irritate "the Powers"? I'm just wondering.

Sigmund 8 years ago

This isn't a pot charge, this is illegal transport and trafficking of firearms charge. I thought all the liberals wanted the guns taken off the streets? Registered concealed carry should not be allowed for non-felons, BUT trafficking in firearms should be legal if you smoke dope? Get real.

I do feel sorry for their children though. Maybe the prosecutors will allow one parent to avoid or do minimum time. I sure hope they got rid of that stupid lawyer how produced that bogus affidavit. You got to believe that really p*$$ed off the feds!

Baille 8 years ago

Liberals, Sigmund? Who are you branding as liberal? Marion?

Baille 8 years ago

By the way, Sigmund, the language about interstate commerce is legally required and does not indicate that the Neighbors were doing the transporting or that the transportation itself was illegal.

shirinisb 8 years ago

Actually their children are grown. I grew up with them and they are both great people. I've known the Neighbors since I was in 7th grade and they've never been anything but great members of this town. Shame on you babbling people who obviously have no idea what you're speaking of.

Sigmund 8 years ago

Call Marion a liberal, never! At least not and live to tell the tale.

What I am saying is that these charges are essentially firearms violations and not drug violations, contrary to what Marion and others believe. It is illegal to possess a firearm while using or being addicted to a controlled substance, or being a felon, fugitive from justice, etc. This is just one possible element of what is a GUN CONTROL law, not a drug law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000922----000-.html

How many people rushed to Limbaughs defense when he was charged with possession of oxycontin? I heard no outcry from the left that drugs should be decriminalized nor a peep about the circumstances of the seizer of his medical records. How many people would have demanded he be given the death penalty had he been in possession of the guns listed here? I have a hard time with people who are willing to pick and choose how the law is enforced based upon the sympathies they feel to the persons charged.

Oh, and I understand the pro forma language pleading of jurisdiction requirement.

doc1 8 years ago

I like the Neighbors as well. They are good people. Then again some of the most notorious serial killers were good people too. That fact is if you do the crime don't be mad when you have to do the crime. I feel a heck of alot more bad for the hundreds of victims who had their stolen items sold by the Neighbors' than the Neighbors' themselves.

Baille 8 years ago

I don't think this is primarily a firearms offense. I think it was enacted to deal with drug users and dealers. Recreational drugs are illegal, there is a black market, black markets are messy, and people get armed to deal with it. This law is part of the war on drugs and happens to deal with firearms. Now I didn't look at the legislative history so I could be completely wrong, but I don't think so. I think this law is meant to deal with the use of illegal drugs and is a way of increasing the penalty paid by drug users.

After all, you or I could own or possess all these guns and it wouldn't be a crime 'cause we don't use illegal drugs.

Rush's problem was one of public health as well. And I bet he has a few guns stashed around the Palm Beach casa as well. But what was fun about that was watching a guy who had repeatedly advocated for treating drug users as animals flail under the weight of his own rhetoric. Beautiful. Of course, Rush needed help not jail. And he is rich, so he got the help he needed and celebrated his narrow escape from jail with a bottle of Viagra and a quick trip to Central America.

Wonder what will happen to the Neighbors?

MyName 8 years ago

Yeah, it's impossible to feel bad about Limbaugh's situation, partly because he "collapsed under the weight of his own rhetoric", but also because, unlike the Neighbors, he's got money to insulate himself from these kinds of problems.

It's kind of bizarre that two honest 'law abiding' people would need 5 or 6 guns apiece to protect themselves. And the penalty on the indictment said "not more than 10 years and/or $250,000 fine." This is serious, but not as egregious as some people on the blog are claiming.

And what is wrong with moving forward with the case that is the easiest to prove? They may have been investigating a fencing operation, but if you can get them on something easier and cheaper to prosecute that still carries a weighty sentence, and they are guilty of that crime as well, then what is the problem? The criminal system already costs this country alot of money.

Sigmund 8 years ago

Calling this statute is a drug statute is like saying the laws against drinking and driving are attempt to bring back Prohibition. On the other hand, a GUN CONTROL STATUTE (which this clearly IS) limits who and under what circumstances a person can own a gun. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000922----000-.html

Apparently when the law was written someone decided that people addicted or using illegal drugs should not be allowed to own firearms. Go figure. And if I remember correctly, it is/was the LIBERALS that wanted lots of restrictions on firearms, but apparently not when the person is using illegal drugs. Who would have guessed?

The only problem I have with the neighbors case is they have not yet been specifically charged with fencing stolen goods. That would lead me to believe there is not enough evidence to prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt. Doesn't mean they didn't do it, after all they never convicted Al Capone for being a mobster, just a tax cheat.

When being a hypocrite becomes the basis of prosecution a lot more people than Rush Limbaugh will need to be looking over their shoulder!

Sigmund 8 years ago

Marion, you rarely make me mad and we honestly disagree on this issue. I can accept that. Contrary to popular belief Conservatives don't walk in lock step. No offense taken!

paladin 8 years ago

Good fences make good Neighbors. No sacrifice is too great for the comfort and safety of living in a police State. Sacrifices must be made to promote and maintain law and order in an America gone mad. It feels so right being one of the herd. Our destiny catches up to us, overtakes us, and consumes us. We are the monster we have created and we are destroying ourselves. Fear is our motivation and violence is our medium and TV is our drug and our future as a free people is the price we pay for the delusion of immortality and domination and the satisfaction of our pitiful needs.

Baille 8 years ago

Now you are calling me a liberal, Sigmund? Whatever.

Why can alcoholics own guns but people who smoke dope can't? Gun control? No. Drug control.

You can label me with whatever word you want, Sigmund, but the drug laws are killing America. We can't afford to jail this many people, and we can't justify it either. It is time for a change.

neighbal 8 years ago

its Crazy to think all this time 1, whole Years worth of Tax payers money ( money that you, I and obviously the neighbors Paid Because there are no Tax Evasion charges) And NO charges for fencing Stolen goods (the saposed Original Reason for the Search"s" ) .....................Mabe Thats because there were no Stolen goods.

Has Any one used the Freedom of information Act to See what the FBI really Said ?? about this case ??. ABSOLUTLY NOTHING because the FBI never Got involved. They dont have any paper work on it. Because they never did an investigation. you know in about 25 out of 50 states in the US it is legal to smoke and have in your possession 1 lb. or less if you have medical reason to.

copy and paste the following in your address bar.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3653114296815352489&q=war+on+drugs&hl=en

FireMarshall_Bill 8 years ago

egad, they weren't dealing drugs; they were growing enough for personal use. To combine what is a misdemeanor with gun ownership to create a felony is just retaliation and cheap. It really makes the LPD appear small-minded.

I know this family to be very community-minded. Guy and Carrie have been excellent parents to their son. He is a very caring young man.

It is truly a shame what is happening to them.

yellowhouse 8 years ago

We do not buy, sell, or ship any guns.

The shipped-transporting claim in the indictment is from when they were new and were shipped by the manufacturer, (not us) Just another wierd thing about the law I guess.

Sigmund 8 years ago

Legalize pot and this section of the GUN CONTROL STATUTE would not apply. This statute doesn't target just pot but ALL illegal drugs. Is pot is less dangerous than alcohol? Certainly less damage is done to society by pot than alcohol. But even that is partly due to the fact that alcohol is legal, more readily available and more widely used and accepted than pot and therefore has more potential to do more damage.

But at the end of the day being an alcoholic is legal and possessing pot IS ILLEGAL, and in the majority of countries I might add. I don't like the idea of someone who feels they can pick and choose what laws they will obey and which laws they will ignore owning firearms. What other laws will they decide don't apply to them once they own a firearm? I also like the idea that people addicted to coke, meth, ecstasy and dozens of other drugs being forbidden by this GUN CONTROL LAW to own firearms. Call me an old stick in the mud.

Characterizing the prosecution of the Neighbors for violation of a Federal GUN CONTROL STATUTE as some kind of misguided overreaching that is motivated by a overzealous drug prosecution just isn't going to fly, and neither is arguing that they shouldn't be prosecuted because pot should be legal or is not as harmful as alcohol.

neighbal 8 years ago

HOLY SH!T they came into the store and Questioned Carrie Neighbors WITHout her Lawyer Present ??

Most recently, Guy Neighbors said earlier this month that he had filed a formal complaint against Lawrence Police alleging that officers had come to the store and begun to question his wife without her attorney present.

Isn't that one of your rights being broken. I smell a case that is about to get thrown out, and Alot of police officials into some Deep do-do. DEEEP DO-DO.

tdiddy 8 years ago

I need to clear up a few questions I have.... Now, the indictment was opened on the 12th of Dec. '06 for findings back in 2005. LAST YEAR!!!! This means the Police Dept, SRS and U.S Atty Office has allowed the Neighbors to continue raising their children (foster)and continue to run their business for a whole year with no concern for the childrens welfare. So, what is it about? Stolen items, Drugs, Guns, what? This is the 1st time I've heard about the Marijuana. I'm sure he has permits for handguns/guns because the protection needed at the fireworks stand. (when the police didn't (wouldn't) protect them). The people are GOOOD people and maybe it was the honorable act of ONE good officer that went to talk to Carrie about the case KNOWING what would happen with the case. (out with the bath water) Just giving US ALL something to think about.

Tom Jones 8 years ago

never would of thought. think the place looks kinda scummy, never think to go in there

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