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Michael C. Kelley, 64 of Shirley, was sentenced to five years in Federal Prison March 19 by Judge Leon Holmes in Little Rock. The judge, however, expressed displeasure with having to meter-out such a severe penalty, noting that his inclination would have been to institute a lesser sentence but that his hands were tied due to statutory mandatory minimum laws. (click for hearing transcript)

Kelley, co-founder of The Committee for Honest Law Enforcement, led protests picketing the Van Buren County Court House and raising serious question of financial mismanagement by Sheriff Scott Bradley.

Kelley has spent nearly a year being shuffled around various Arkansas jails awaiting his day in court after he attempted a Citizen Arrest of area Confidential Informant Joseph “Daniel” Watts for selling drugs. Charges which Kelley and others insist must still be brought to bear.

20th Judicial Drug task force leader Johnny Sowell caused Kelley to be indicted for ‘intimidating’ Watts in early May of 2008. Kelley has maintained that he was really arrested because he and partisans of The Committee were working for Bradley’s defeat in the May election.

The Committee supported Officer Eric Koonce of the Clinton PD for the Sheriff’s office, while raising allegations, supported by the Arkansas Joint Legislative Auditors Committee, of missing money and “non compliance with the law” by Bradley in serious fiduciary matters.

Accusations of the missing money and of Watts’ drug dealing caused much interest and consternation in Van Buren County throughout 2008.

Committee co-founder Christine Beems and her daughter, Shalom Weiss, who was physically assaulted, terrorized, and threatened with death for refusing to marry Watts, hoped to testify at Kelley’s sentencing hearing, however Judge Holmes ruled that their testimony on these mitigating circumstances was ‘outside the scope’ of the matter before him and that Kelley’s plea of guilty to cultivating marijuana concluded the case.

“Mike admitted to growing twenty-two pot plants and cutting them into 190 slips which, at the time of his interdiction, were not rooted, however the fact that a cutting is not a plant was rejected by the court and Mike was held accountable to having grown the equivalent of something like 120 pounds of pot,” said Beems.

“This is a classic Fourth Amendment case,” said Kelley, referencing a tape recording on which Watts admits to selling marijuana to Kelley and a cancelled check signed by Watts which Kelley asserts was payment for the pot. “And more than the time in jail, it grieves me that our justice system is so sloppy and corrupt as to disregard what really happened from day one. It is shameful and un-American,” Kelley reported during an interview after the hearing.

In a statement read during the allocution portion of Kelley’s sentencing hearing, Kelley again called for the arrest of Watts and requested a formal investigation of police and prosecutorial actions associated with his case, asserting that those involved had “industriously protected organized crime in Van Buren County by ignoring evidence.”

He also noted that the Federal prosecutor, John Ray White, had given him no choice but to accept the 5-year mandatory minimum sentence associated with cultivation of 100 or more marijuana plants, threatening to put him away for 13 years if he risked trial. ~~~

Below: The news brief published by the VBCD in summary of the news release (above).

Reading both items above, do you see how the truth is 'edited' by mainstream media to aggrandize law enforcement's view point? Do you understand how this type of (unspoken) bias amounts to 'social engineering'?

Most importantly, do you realize how this constitutes a failure of the press to serve the public interest by publishing half-truths and making it seem like 'the whole story'?


To those who have been loyal Gozarkians since our debut April 19, 2000 (Yes, Gozarks has now commenced our 10th year of publication!), it may seem that for the last couple of years we've become more and more of what used to be called a 'one trick pony', and we confess this as truth.

Our focus has increasingly homed-in on the drug war in general and the specific circumstances regarding fellow editor and dear personal friend, Michael C. Kelley (draped in the flag, at left) for reasons that go beyond the scope of our outrage over what has been done to this man and every member of my family, to the factual reality of what is being done to our community as a whole in the errant namesake of 'law and order'.

Our purpose too is to bring to public attention an in-depth experience of why so many allege that mainstream media has become corrupted by the brutally economic and covert social 'powers that be' to become more of a one trick pony than Gozarks ever could be... and how this degradation of the factual content of 'news' impacts our daily lives in tremendously harmful ways.

By way of illustration, the column at left contains the full text of the news release submitted by me, personally, to the Van Buren County Democrat (VBCD)... aka: the primary source of hard-copy news for our county.

Every fact asserted in our news release (and many, many more) has been documented on The Committee for Honest Law Enforcement's website which I am told is widely read by those members of law enforcement who purport to have done a complete investigation of the Michael C. Kelley case, including our allegations of corruption in local law enforcement.

Still, the reality is that at no time during the last two years has anyone representing law enforcement contacted me to respond to, inquire about or endeavor to disprove any one of our multiple allegations.

The fact is that these allegations have been persistently and diligently ignored.

Another fact: when the Kelley case broke as a 'major news item' the news release issued by our local Sheriff's office made front page headlines in the VBCD.

When my follow-up article (April 2007) telling 'the other side of the story' on Kelley's arrest and taking a critical look at the ramifications of the war on drugs ran in the VBCD, it too consumed a goodly portion of that publication's front page.

However, over the months tween then and now, as public conversation on this topic grew in volume, the VBCD purposefully scaled-back coverage because, we were told, things had gotten too hot and had to cool down.

Excuse me?

When did social engineering become the job of media? When were editors granted the authority to ignore legitimate public debate? Better put, when did editors stop serving the public interest by failing to publish factual accounts of matters that actually took place?

All of which may be answered by asking one more question: What did the VBCD mean by the assertion that things had gotten 'too hot'...

Too hot for whom?

And when did 'hot button issues' NOT rank as #1 items of news?

There were three critical turning points in the Kelley case, each of which paved the way for another miscarriage of justice, and each of which hinged on the neglect of news media to simply do their job and report both sides of the story regarding actual events.

The first critical juncture occurred when a group of us picketed the VBC Courthouse, seeking to raise public awareness about the several issues we addressed. The first time we picketed, our numbers were relatively small and the VBCD did run a front page article. However, the article did not explore in any depth the allegations we raised and completely omitted the fact that we phoned Sheriff Bradley's office (in the presence of the editor of the VBCD) politely requesting that he come visit with us and respond to the assertions we made... nor that he declined.

The second time we picketed (click here and scroll down), our numbers had more than doubled... Interestingly, this did not make print in the VBCD (or anywhere else) at all.

The second instance of 'social engineering' by our trusted county rag occurred during the lead-up to the primary elections held in our community last May when we (a group of civic activists) were working diligently to defeat the incumbent Sheriff, Scott Bradley, by supporting Clinton Police Officer Eric Koonce.

The VBCD declined to run our 'endorsement' news release or the photo that accompanied it. They also declined to run a campaign ad for Koonce sponsored by others who supported him.

The third deadly blow to journalistic integrity came when the editor of the VBCD refused to publish a news release about Kelley's attempted (and perfectly legal) Citizen Arrest of drug-dealing Confidential Informant Joseph "Daniel" Watts and chose instead to play 'confidential informant' by turning the release over to DEA agent Johnny Sowell which absolutely resulted in the illegal arrest of Michael C. Kelley on May 9, 2008.

It is our right as citizens of a free nation to be apprised of BOTH sides of the story. Media is NOT about 'majority rule', nor is it about promoting the agenda of any person or agency 'in power'.

Media has a duty to serve ONLY THE PUBLIC INTEREST, and this interest may only be served by informing the public of ALL the facts.

If you would like to do something about this, you can start now by signing the petition, below....


We pray for and demand the immediate release of all prisoners of the drug war.

Stop the Insanity NOW...!!!



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