Pot advocate jailed on possession, false report charges
For his next DVD series designed to help marijuana smokers avoid the hassle of law enforcement, Barry N. Cooper may want to come up with a new name.
The former Odessa narcotics agent and producer of the promotional video series "Never Get Busted" was jailed Tuesday on multiple charges — including possession of marijuana — while conducting one of his notorious hoaxes on police in Florence, Texas, authorities said.
Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Foster said Cooper recently called in a suspicious package on the campus of the Florence Middle School. Foster said the package contained "a glass pipe that is normally used to smoke crack cocaine."
"Apparently, he was doing this to test us," Foster said. "When you do something like this on a school grounds, even though it’s after school hours … I’m sure the parents and faculty would probably have been quite alarmed to find a crack pipe on their campus."
Foster said the officers were being filmed but did not know it at the time. Cooper was jailed on charges of filing a false report, a misdemeanor. Travis County authorities searched his house shortly after the arrest and reportedly located a small amount of marijuana, Foster said. Cooper also was charged with one count of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Jail officials said Cooper posted a $2,000 bond for the false alarm charge and was awaiting transfer Wednesday afternoon to Travis County to appear before a judge for the marijuana charge.
Since retiring from law enforcement, Cooper, a former narcotics agent, has advocated for the legalization of marijuana, contending that jails are full of non-violent criminals. He has spoken openly of his own marijuana use and gained national attention with the release of his DVD series "Never Get Busted," a video designed to help viewers conceal their drugs, avoid profiling and fool canines searching for narcotics.
In Odessa, Cooper is known for his role in Kopbusters, an organization that advocated for the release of Yolanda Jean Madden, an Odessa woman awaiting a retrial on federal drug charges. In January 2009, Cooper and Kopbusters set up an elaborate hoax to try and show that the Odessa Police Department is corrupt. The organization has been involved in similar projects across the state.
Cooper also has tried his hand in politics. In 2008, Cooper ran as a Libertarian as he challenged Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, for the District 31 seat in U.S. House of Representatives. Cooper garnered just 3 percent of the vote.
He also has announced his intention to challenge Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in the general election this November.
A message left on Cooper’s cell phone was not returned Wednesday.
March 04, 2010
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