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Michael Phelps "Bong-gate" Latest

Feb. 13 2009, Published 7:51 a.m. ET

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Is the sheriff's department in Columbia, South Carolina, just a little too zealous?

That's what attorney Dick Harpootlian and Joe McCulloch are asking after their clients were arrested in conjunction with the Michael Phelps investigation.

Armed deputies raided a Lake Murray, South Carolina home last Saturday, then proceeded to the so-called party house where the Olympic gold medalist was photographed holding a bong last November. The result? Misdemeanor marijuana charges for seven people. But get this - those charges are for Saturday's raid ONLY and NOT for the November party Phelps was at!

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"He was sitting there on Saturday and 12 cops kick in the door with guns

drawn, search the house and find 5, maybe 6 grams of pot," Harpootlian told

The State, a newspaper in Columbia South Carolina.

But that didn't stop the authorities from trying to build their case against


"They never asked him, Who sold you the pot," Harpootlian adds. They were asking, Were you at the party with Michael Phelps? Did you see him using marijuana. It was all about Michael Phelps.

McCulloch, who reps two of the defendants, told the newspaper, The sheriff's department is deploying resources they are normally reserving for major drug dealers and major criminals.

Of his client Harpootlian adds, "He's being treat more harshly than any kids anywhere in the country. The only reefer madness is being done at the sheriff's department."

So far the sheriff's department is keeping mum on the names of the arrested.

At this time. Michael Phelps has not been charged with any wrongdoing. However, he has lost one major Kellogg Co. endorsement deal and was also suspended for three months by USA Swimming.


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