This lakeside villa could be on a mesa in Tuscany, but it’s a CCC mess hall built in the Depression, a place where the troops showered and ate.
Meridian – It’s a game, and Jake got trapped into it when he was just a lad of 16.
“That was before,” he recalled, looking over his interlocutor’s shoulder, somewhere in the middle distance, “when we lived at Lake Whitney. My mother took me to the police station and turned me in.”
Why? “She was in the process of becoming a nurse. She didn’t want to get busted.”
For what? “Marijuana.”
Now 29, he has since that time never been completely free of drug charges or their aftermath, all the drug offender’s baggage of jail, fines, rehab, probation, meetings, programs, community service.
Even his wife has suffered the consequences. Once, she brought him a bundle of fresh underwear, socks, and a pair of clean sneakers during a stint in the local county jail. Stuffed in the toe of one of the fresh pair of sneakers, jailers found a baggie with antibiotics in it.
As Jake remembers, the authorities charged her with attempting to smuggle a controlled substance into a correctional facility. When she finally faced justice, she was court-ordered to travel to Waco, a trip of about 40 miles – 80 miles round trip – every day for a week, where she was required to work 10 hours per day cleaning a rodeo arena and its outbuildings under community supervision for the Heart of Texas Council of Governments.
Jake? They charged him with aiding an offender to escape detection or arrest – or something like that. The story is complicated. There’s something about pit bulls and a garden gate, a Texas Ranger knocking on the door. But it all blew over.
“They never took me to court.” He shrugs, gestures with palms up at shoulder height, the universal sign of “Who knows?” – or Quien sabe, throughout our world.
That’s about the size of it. Let’s play cowboys and Jake. An ex-football player who lost his spot on the high school squad due to marijuana charges, Jake weighs 350 pounds. He’s six feet tall.
So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that on June 1, the day the narcs “busted” a 30,000 plant marijuana grow near the local state park at Meridian, the narcs nailed Jake Ivy for delivery of more than a quarter ounce and less than five pounds of marijuana at the county seat’s sister community, a Norwegian enclave 10 miles south on Highway 6, Clifton.
Normally a State Jail Felony that carries a maximum sentence of two years with no parole, the charge is enhanced to a third degree felony with the potential of a sentence of not less than two years and not more than 10 because he allegedly made the sale within 1,000 feet of a day care center where the old folks’ home’s numerous lady employees park their little kids during their work day .
They told the TV crews that the immature plants near the Meridian State Park, which were reportedly irrigated with water from Bee Creek that was pumped by a generator-fed outfit buried in a hole seven feet in the ground and concealed by cut cedar branches, were worth $12 million – or at least, they would be if fully grown, harvested, cured and packaged, then marketed to connoisseurs of green, leafy, herbaceous smoking material. The kind the turistas buy when they want to get mile high.
That day never arrived, and there was no one to arrest because a citizen tipped the law, and when they arrived with dogs and guns, the two men who were cultivating the patch while camped out with enough food and gasoline for their generator to last a month, escaped, running into the woods. Law men reportedly got a good look at their behinds as they went charging through the brush.
The cops pulled up the plants and destroyed them.
They also transplanted Jake Wayne Ivy from his digs when the apartment manager where he, his wife, and two kids live. She handed the narcs a pass key and they strolled in with one warrant of search, and another for Jake’s arrest at about 11 am that same day.
“I was watching cartoons with the kids, sitting on the couch in my underwear. They wouldn’t even let me put on any clothes or get my shoes,” he said.
One is reminded of an often told tale of a 19th century pioneer Norwegian settler the Indians caught alone on the prairie and robbed of his horse, his guns, and all his clothing, including his boots. He was forced to walk many miles through rocky soil, cactus and rattlers – all the way back to the ranch.
It nearly killed him. But that was another war, played no less for keeps, and the old timer didn’t run. He died at peace, of natural causes, at home on his place where he worked until his fingers bled.
The management told Jake’s wife that she and her kids could stay where she lives in what Investigator Alan Kirkland referred to as the “Government Apartments,” across the street from the Lutheran Sunset Home.
Like most Texas towns west of I-35, the old folks’ home is the major employer.
Jake had to go. Now he stays somewhere else.
The narcs found three pipes used for smoking marijuana. They issued Jake a misdemeanor citation for possession of narcotics paraphernalia on a green snap-out form, a summons to the local precinct of the Justice Court. Then they took him to jail at Meridian, where Justice of the Peace Jeff Hightower charged him with the marijuana delivery offense with its enhancement paragraph.
According to the return of service on the search warrant, they found no other contraband.
He paid a bond fee of $900 on $6,000 bail, and the underwriter guaranteed the District Court a total of $12,000, according to court papers.
Kirkland’s affidavit of probable cause makes allegations directly related to marijuana cultivation and interstate commerce in the yerba buena. Naturally, there is a legal weed connection in the story, straight out of the resort towns of Colorado.
He said the day before, on the last day of June, he “received information that there was a Hydroponic marijuana operation at the Government Apartment located at…Clifton, Texas. The CI (confidential informant) stated that Jacob Wayne Ivy…was offering a partnership in the growing and delivery of Hydroponic Marijuana at a grow site outside of Clifton, Texas.
“The CI stated that Ivy told him that he was purchasing legal marijuana in Colorado and dealing the marijuana which makes it illegal in the State of Texas. The CI stated that Ivy was offering to sell 3 ounces of marijuana to the CI for $600 in United States Currency.”
Kirkland’s affidavit states in its first paragraph in support of his belief based on “the following facts and information…” that “The CI has been used in the past and has made numerous controlled buys and has proved a credible and reliable Confidential Informant.”
The narrative goes on to tell how “CI-2015-0001-002” showed up for work and they checked he and his “vehicle” for contraband, then gave him a recording device, and $600 in Federal Reserve Notes.
That would have been worth $83.56 in 1968 Federal Reserve Notes, the year the “War On Drugs” began with the Controlled Substances Act of 1968, according to an internet currency calculation service. One can only guess that it would buy about one-third of an ounce of Colorado gold.
No telling how many pieces of silver it’s worth. Let’s see. Oh, yeah, at $20 an ounce, that would come up to 30, depending on who you’re doing business with.
When CI-2015-0001-002 came out of Ivy’s apartment, they followed him to a location where he turned over “two large sandwich bags and 1 small sandwich bag that contained a green leafy substance that based on Inv. Kirkland(‘s) 33 years of law enforcement experience he knew to be marijuana.”
He noted that it weighed 2 ounces and a “NARK KIT for Marijuana” tested positive.
Kirkland was careful to explain that his credible and reliable source of information – the man with a number for a name – had developed the information used to support his affirmation within the previous 72 hours, on June 31, when he “received information” from him.
Jake doesn’t remember it that way. He says he wants a jury to hear his side of the story, and he wants to cross-examine the witnesses against him in open court.
Under an exception to the confidential privilege of an informer’s identity of the Texas Rules of Evidence 5.08 (c)(1)(A)(B), he is entitled to know the name of undercover officers or confidential informants who were used to develop the case against him under two circumstances.
(1) Voluntary Disclosure; Informer a Witness. This privilege does not apply if: (A) the informer’s identity or the informer’s interest in the communication’s subject matter has been disclosed – by a privilege holder or the informer’s own action – to a person who would have cause to resent the communication; or (B) the informer appears as a witness for the public entity.
(2) Testimony About the Merits. (A) Criminal Case. “In a criminal case, this privilege does not apply if the court finds a reasonsable probability exists that the informer can give testimony necessary to a fair determination of guilt or innocence. If the court so finds and the public entity elects not to disclose the informer’s identity: (i) on the defendant’s motion, the court must dismiss the charges to which the testimony would relate; or (ii) on its own motion, the court may dismiss the charges to which the testimony would relate.”
He says a long-time acquaintance named Josh Mangum, a forty-ish laborer who sometimes works on lawn maintenance crews, came to see him on July 31, wanting to buy some grass.
“I told him I didn’t have any. I gave him a joint’s worth,” he said. Looking pensive, tears running down his massive face, he said, “There was no one else who came to see me. No one.”
He looked into the middle distance. He repeated his last phrase. “No one.” Then he shook his head and looked at the tips of his shoes as he wiped away his tears.
The Silver Bucket is a narrow store front on Clifton’s principal downtown street, Avenue D. It’s located right across the street from the Chamber of Commerce. It has white-painted stone walls and lots of flat-screen televisions to catch the games. A Victorian age built-in bank vault dominates the corner near the bar where Jake’s wife works getting brewskis for an upscale crowd. He works in the back, cooking hamburgers and other meals.
The establishment opened in November. It caters to a lunch time clientele and early evening drinkers, many of whom are day trippers in town to shop antiques and see the Cowboy art and sculpture.
There is one other place to drink – The American Legion Post – and you can get a beverage to go with dinner at a couple of upscale restaurants.
If you picked up the Silver bucket and transported it to any major west coast city from Seattle to San Diego, it could pass for a fern bar in any arts district. For that matter, the Silver Bucket wouldn’t be out of place on any gentrified downtown street from Aspen to Taos, what with its couches and sofa pillows, attractive graphics, plants, and pleasant decor.
As we wrapped up our interview on a bench out front, a pair of very drunk women staggered out the door and stopped to stare. It was a moment. It was hostile. It’s the kind of thing apes do to let other apes know they are in the wrong place. Words were exchanged. She said someone had given her “a look.” One of them texted a man inside who was wearing a cowboy hat, jeans and boots. He came outside and stood, swaying to an unheard melody.
“How you doing?” he asked in an angry tone. Stone-faced silence. One of the women said, “He thinks he’s a real bad ass.”
The reply, “It’s even worse than that. I know what I am.” Cowboy hat whipped out his phone and called the police. Then he drove away in his extended cab pickup, staring out the window.
Momentarily, a patrolman arrived at a high rate of speed, lights flashing, driving a Dodge Charger the wrong way on a one-way lane in a two-way street divided by planters and sculpture.
He alighted, snapping, “All right, what’s the disturbance?”
The rejoinder: “We never saw any evidence of one.”
He, too, stared like a gorilla in the mist.
He went inside, confronted the management, then came back outside to stare some more.
And then he left, red and blue whirling lights alternately scalding and freezing the pavement and masonry before and behind his vehicle.
As Mr. Hemingway once wrote, you could tell by looking at his back when he walked away that he was angry.
– 30 –
JUDAS ISCARIOT, depicted in stone as hanged, by his own hand