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Bong-Gate Attorney Blows Smoke At Phelps Investigation

Feb. 16 2009, Published 10:04 a.m. ET

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The Sheriff in Columbia, South Carolina, Leon Lott, has decided not to charge Michael Phelps with marijuana possession. And now, attorney Dick Harpootlian is hoping his clients get a fair shake.

Harpootlian reps three of the defendants arrested during the Phelps investigation. He served as the D.A. for years before opening his private practice law firm, and says he has "never" seen an investigation like this before. "It looks a little silly," Harpootlian explains adding, " It makes South Carolina look like The Gong Show."

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As previously reported on, sheriff's deputies entered two locations nine days ago, guns drawn searching for evidence to implicate the Olympic Gold Medal winner. Once the defendants were taken into custody, they faced a barrage of questions about Michael Phelps and nothing regarding the marijuana confiscated at their location. Those tactics drew plenty of criticism aimed at Sheriff Lott.

Harpootlian says his clients have been charged with "simple possession." That usually ends with the defendants being given a "conditional discharge," or "unofficial probation," Harpootlian explains adding "if they keep their nose clean for six months, the record is cleared."

He just wants his clients treated "like everyone else." And since Sheriff Lott has dropped the Phelps investigation things are looking up. But, the defendants aren't out of trouble yet. They appear before the judge in Magistrates Court on March 26 to answer the charges.

Click link for the Sheriff's statement.


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