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73-year-old faces prison for pot - MessAge Media: News

Senior citizen felon? 73-year-old faces prison for pot

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 7:00 am

Part 1 in a series

On June 6, Ray Martin McFeters, 73, was charged in Aitkin County District Court with distribution or possession of more than 42.5 grams of marijuana and failure to attach tax stamps to the marijuana.

McFeters is also charged with felony possession of “not a small amount of marijuana” as stated in the criminal complaint filed with the Aitkin County District Court.

McFeters is a retired computer programmer who lives with his wife Patty on the north shore of Mille Lacs Lake. He learned to write code while serving four years with the United States Air Force in crypto maintenance during the Cuban missile crisis. He was honorably discharged in 1964.

“Yeah, I grew a few plants,” McFeters said. “I thought I was doing good by not supporting the cartels and everything like that.”

According to the complaint, McFeters had 22 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.

Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Guida first heard there was a marijuana grow at the McFeters’ residence in early 2013 through an anonymous tip. According to the complaint, Guida stopped by the house several times but never found anyone home. On April 13, Guida stated that he saw fresh tracks in the snow near McFeter’s mailbox.

Guida knocked on the front door and spoke to McFeters, who admitted he was growing marijuana. McFeters then led Deputy Guida to his basement.

“He told me he didn’t have a warrant,” McFeters said. “He said he would get one, but he would bring back four or five cop cars with him if I made him get one.”

According to the complaint, the total weight of McFeter’s marijuana came out to 175 grams (just over 6 ounces), more than enough to convict him of both the felony charges he’s facing.

According to McFeters, he had nowhere near that much marijuana. “Only two of the plants were almost ready for harvest, a week or two away,” McFeters said. “He stuffed all the plants in plastic bags and weighed everything — the leaves, the stems, even the dirt on the roots.”

McFeters said he estimates he had less than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana buds on his plants.

The charge of failing to attach tax stamps to the marijuana carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison and/or a $14,000 fine. “I thought they threw that out years ago,” McFeters said. “You got to produce the pot to get tax stamps, but there’s no tax stamps to be got, so it’s a catch-22.”

McFeters said he was certainly guilty of possession of marijuana, but any charge of intent to distribute was absurd. “I’ve never been a dealer. Oh God, no,” McFeters said. “I never have enough for myself.”

McFeters estimates that he smokes between 25 and 30 bowls of marijuana a day. “I go through about an ounce every couple of weeks,” he said.

Patty, his wife of 43 years, said, “I try to get him to slow down when he’s going to run out, but he can’t. He just keeps smoking until it’s gone.”

Patty doesn’t smoke marijuana. “I drink wine coolers, but half of a wine cooler is all I need.”

Ray doesn’t like alcohol. “I tried it but it just made me sick,” he said. “And you can’t do computer programming when you’re drunk, but boy, you can sure do it when you’re stoned. After smoking pot my mind was like zippity-zippity-zippity. I was really good at my job.”

Ray’s retired, never having lost a job in his life. “Nope, I’ve never been fired,” he said.

Patty is supportive of her husband’s habit, and has been for 45 years, since they first met. “The first time he got high I had my concerns, but he was so much better and calmer,” Patty said. “When he smokes pot, he can live with himself and he can live with life. The demons in his head stay down.”

While Ray may be a handful at times, Patty’s gotten used to having him around. “I really don’t want him to go to jail,” she said.

Ray has no plans to hire an attorney. “I can’t afford it, and I’m guilty,” he said. “Are they really going to throw me in jail at my age with all my problems? Think of all the money they’re going to have to spend on me. I just don't get it.”

Ray’s first court date is scheduled for July 1.

Ray was born in 1940 to a family of “Ohio hillbillies,” the youngest of eight children. “My father died when I was 5 years old, and my mother remarried,” Ray said. “I was sexually abused on a regular basis from the time I was five years old. I remember laying in bed at night and just hoping that nobody would grab me.”

Ray was placed in an orphanage when he was eight years old, where he stayed until he graduated from high school. The sexual abuse continued at the orphanage, but according to Ray, it was preferable to the abuse that preceded it.

“At the orphanage I could say no and just walk away,” he said. “But sometimes I would let them so I could get special favors or make a little money.”

See next week’s edition of the Messenger for the second installment of Ray’s story. Story and photos copyright © 2013 Mille Lacs Messenger.

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  • SlackerSlayer posted at 3:19 pm on Fri, Jun 21, 2013.

    SlackerSlayer Posts: 1

    The laws against any other intoxicant are the crimes being committed. Our bill of rights demands that all other intoxicants be just as legal or easier to obtain than alcohol. Read the ninth amendment with the alcohol amendment (21st) as the other enumerated law in the constitution, and it becomes the clearest law ever written. Prohibition is the crime and every cop making any arrests are committing treason and violating the oath they so proudly took to uphold and defend the Constitution.

    Let This Man Go Back Home Now.

  • MyOwn234 posted at 12:12 pm on Fri, Jun 21, 2013.

    MyOwn234 Posts: 1

    Why is this interview in the Aitkin paper?

    Ok, I get that he's an older gentleman who's active with something usually associated with a younger generation. But he admittedly committed what is still a crime in this country and has been charged with a felony.

    Why does this warrant such an interview as to allow him to brag about his drug habits? If this were a true crime report, it would stick to the facts. The circumstances of the incident would be laid out followed by the expected results. Perhaps there would also be that human interest element due to the unusual nature of the crime for the age of the felon. Why give this man and his wife a chance to promote their drug and alcohol habits?

    This is a small town. Do you really want your children reading about how this man feels it's ok to get "stoned" (his own words) in order to work more efficiently? And please - I'm so sorry that this man has had the trauma of abuse in his childhood and perhaps that’s part of the reason for the choices he's made later in life, but this small town newspaper has absolutely no business repeating his statements about how he CHOSE to accept the abusive acts in order to gain favors or money!

    This story didn't need to be told. The crime could have been reported without the sensationalism - a man who's proud of his illegal activities has been given an open forum to share them for the public to hear. Instead, this story could have been presented as a chance to learn. How does this man’s age and crime compare to other Minnesota crimes and criminals? What would the expense be if he is sent to prison? What are the statistics for victims of child abuse who later become drug abusers or criminals?

    Get it together, Aitkin Age - if you're going to present news, keep it to NEWS. Or are you now going to let every criminal air their dirty laundry in the newspaper too?

  • Curt posted at 9:45 am on Fri, Jun 21, 2013.

    Curt Posts: 1

    No real harm being done by Ray since he used the pot himself and wasn't dealing.
    His mistake was being so cooperative. I doubt if any judge would issue a search warrant based on "an annonymous tip" If that IS possible, we're all in deep doo doo.
    Hope Ray's dismissed with minimum impact on his life. He's right, incarceration would be pointless at his age and health.

  • Anonymousse posted at 8:50 pm on Thu, Jun 20, 2013.

    Anonymousse Posts: 1

    Mr. Passons, this is the finest reporting I've read in many many moons. I am not being sarcastic, this story and your unique wordsmithing and grammarian talent deserve much more attention. You may be surprised to learn that there is a heated discussion on reddit about this man and his plight.

  • MommyM posted at 1:38 pm on Thu, Jun 20, 2013.

    MommyM Posts: 1

    Hopefully when it comes to sentencing they don't throw the book at this old man. This is just ridiculous. The laws are changing though and hopefully unnecessary actions like this will stop in the future. I wish him all the best!


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