It appears that some Missouri law enforcement agencies are forcing people sentenced to drug court to become street informants.
A federal lawsuit filed this week by a drug treatment facility in Franklin County suggests that local cops have been strong-arming patients into snitching against local drug dealers by threatening them with prison if they refuse to participate.
The complaint, which was filed by Kenneth L. Allen, Jr. and Jan Allen of the Meramec Recovery Center, claims that Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jason Grellner was pressuring those people sent to the rehab facility under the order of the county drug court to inform on members of the black market drug trade. It was a shakedown that, according to court documents, involved Grellner giving Meramec residents—most of whom were then unable to uphold their obligations to the drug court—an ultimatum that came with the potential of being slapped with criminal charges and a prison term if they declined to provide him with information about local drug dealers.
This racket eventually caused Meramec to lose its contract with the Missouri State Courts Administrator, the lawsuit reads.
When Meramec administrators confronted Grellner over his greasy tactic, which they claim was a ploy intended to boost his political career, the complaint suggests that he began spreading rumors to a number of influential authority figures that eventually sabotaged the facility’s relationship with the state.
However, in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Grellner said the allegations in the lawsuit are completely made up, insisting that the fabrication was all done as part of an elaborate scheme to cut the throat of his political endeavors. He told the reporter that Meramec has had it out for him ever since the facility lost its drug court contract and that it was using the lawsuit as a means to settle the score.
Interestingly, Grellner, who the lawsuit claims was on a mission to convince Franklin County that his “tough on drugs” position was the reason he should be elected as sheriff, recently lost his bid to become county’s longest arm of the law. Perhaps this can be attributed to residents having little to no faith that Grellner has the power to actually remedy the area’s drug problem.
As Think Progress pointed out in its report on the case, crimes associated with heroin and opioid addiction have continued to ravage the area. Meth, too, continues to be problematic.
A court must now decide whether Grellner was using his authority to blackmail people in the drug court system. If the allegations turn out to be true, Grellner could be held responsible for putting a number of people in harms way.
As we have learned in such cases, like the one involving Andrew Sadek of North Dakota, being forced by law enforcement to inform on drug dealers is a dangerous situation that has the potential to get a person killed.