Last year, we told you about the case of medical marijuana caregiver Ann Marie Miller, who faced a felony cultivation charge for what she claimed was a legal number of plants. A new law subsequently lowered the offense to a misdemeanor, but the felony accusation against her remains. The latest? Miller's rejected a plea deal and has self-filed lawsuits against both the Adams County Sheriff's Office and the North Metro Drug Task Force.
The incident in question took place last March. Miller, at the time an MMJ patient with a provisional license based on a doctor's recommendation, had what she then estimated as eighteen plants. But when her landlord, who was also her employer, found out about the grow, she fired Miller and called police.
The landlord also charged Miller with theft and embezzlement unrelated to the marijuana. Miller is suing the landlord as well.
According to Miller, representatives of the Adams County Sheriff's Office and the North Metro Drug Task Force arrived at her apartment and threatened to kick in her door if she didn't allow them access. She claimed the various officers made a mess of her apartment, and when she complained, they threatened to "throw me to the ground, put a foot in the middle of my back, and arrest me" -- something that struck her as even more unpleasant than usual, since she was pregnant at the time. Miller also insisted that officers found dead plants in the trash and included them in her total count.
North Metro Drug Task Force Commander Jerry Peters offered a very different version of these events during an interview last year. He said Miller "granted verbal permission to search her house to look at the plants," and officers didn't disturb anything. However, he noted, they took photos documenting that Miller had "destroyed her own apartment to further her grow by putting ventilation systems through wiring, through doors, knocked holes out with hammers." He added that the officers were understanding about Miller's pregnancy, choosing to release her on written custody rather than taking her to jail due to her condition.
In a subsequent interview, Miller said one of the main reasons she had chosen to fight the felony charge rather than accept a plea deal was out of fear of losing custody of her son, who was born in late October. In the end, however, the boy was taken away from her due to a neglect accusation. She says she left him sleeping at home alone to visit the emergency room when he was a few weeks old -- and when hospital workers learned of her actions, they called authorities. Miller admits that this was a tremendous mistake on her part, but she believes she would have been put on "a safety plan" if she hadn't been been targeted with such serious charges.
Prosecutors eventually "offered me a misdemeanor plea bargain for marijuana possession and probation," Miller says -- but she rejected it. Why? "I don't want to let the district attorney intimidate me into taking an easy plea bargain and pleading guilty when I didn't do anything wrong at all."
In the meantime, she's taken the offensive, filing suits that accuse the sheriff's office and the task force with "criminal trespass and robbery" for "coming into my home after I told them to leave, destroying my apartment, threatening me and taking my belongings, which were legally mine. And when someone takes something by force, that's robbery."
The lawsuits would be long shots under the best circumstances, and the fact that Miller is representing herself further lengthens the odds against her. Moreover, she's facing trial in Adams County on April 22, and if she's found guilty, she faces two-to-six years in prison on the marijuana charge and a year in jail for the remaining theft count.
Given the difference between those possible sentences and probation, it's no wonder Miller concedes that "I have had second thoughts. Pretty much all my friends have questioned it -- and maybe I didn't do the right thing. It's definitely possible I didn't, but I've already done it."
As a result, she's hanging her hopes on something she considers to be indisputable: "I'm completely innocent."
Page down to read Miller's complaints:
Ann Marie Miller Complaint Against North Metro Drug Task Force:
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Ann Marie Miller Complaint Against Adams County Sheriff's Office:
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana seizures up 380%, black market growing, says Commander Jerry Peters."