Originally published October 10 2012
Political attack on food rights prompts local response: A new petition calls for the dismissal of charges against Sharon Palmer & James Stewart
by Summer Tierney
(NaturalNews) A People's campaign for 'the little guys' is making big noise this week in southern California. All eyes are on the Ventura County District Attorney's office and its questionable prosecution of a farmer and a food club manager, as thousands of supporters are logging on to sign a petition demanding all charges against the two accused be dropped immediately.
The petition entitled "Free the Farmer & Release the Milkman" (www.change.org) was launched by a small group of food rights advocates in Los Angeles and posted online at Change.org by Angela Doss of (www.thegirlsgoneraw.com). In addition to demanding an end to the prosecution against Healthy Family Farms owner Sharon Palmer and former Rawesome food club manager James Stewart, the petition also calls for Stewart's immediate release from custody. He is currently being held in the Ventura County jail, after bounty hunters rearrested him on July 27 of this year. Stewart failed to show for court per the terms of his bail bond agreement, reached after his March ambush-style arrest during open court in Los Angeles, where he was appearing on charges related to raw milk.
Both Stewart and Palmer, who is currently free on bond, face multiple felony counts in connection with a series of alleged financial crimes, related to what Ventura County district attorneys are calling a "conspiracy" among them. Co-defendant Larry Otting made an early plea deal with the prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against Palmer and Stewart. The D.A. alleges the conspiracy involved an intent to defraud farm investors, commit bank fraud, abuse the elderly and other generally predatory, sordid and nefarious criminal activities - all the while, of course, under the guise of providing friends and neighbors with the finest, most nourishing foods available. How cunning.
Clearly, Ventura County has had its hands busy with these two alleged criminal masterminds, pouring untold amounts of time, money and resources into convincing themselves of as much anyway. If prosecutors can somehow manage to convince a jury of taxpayers at trial, which could begin as early as October 30, Palmer and Stewart could spend multiple decades behind bars.
But petition supporters won't have it.
Details cited in the petition point to a series of apparent misdeeds by agents of the Ventura County D.A.'s office, led by Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Harman. The events appear to implicate the D.A.'s office itself as a significant reason Palmer had difficulty repaying farm investors on time in the first place. Thanks to a crippling series of raids and personal arrests by agents of Ventura County, beginning immediately after receiving the investment funds and spanning a four-year period to date, Palmer's cheese business was completely destroyed. And its annihilation came at a time when cheese sales had been her main source of income.
But with the ongoing raids and harassment, even her efforts to make up the lost revenue from among the farm's other resources were thwarted again and again, rendering full recovery impossible. As Palmer kept her investors informed, not a single one was concerned enough about their outstanding repayment to seek civil action against her, or for that matter, to pursue any other means of collection available to them under the terms outlined in their promissory notes. And even now, after Palmer has fully repaid those investors with interest, using funds from a legal settlement (just as she told investigators she would before they filed charges) the Ventura County D.A.'s office still refuses to acknowledge the transaction.
It is this apparently reckless neglect by the prosecution, and its omission of these facts before the courts, which have led Doss and other supporters to believe the Ventura County District Attorney's office may be guilty of prosecutorial misconduct and potentially numerous other ethics violations. Now that their access to the healthy foods provided by Palmer and Stewart has been limited or cut off entirely as a direct result of these pending legal actions, some are refusing any longer just to sit by and watch things unravel.
"Ventura County prosecutors appear to be working very hard to make their apparently political attack on food rights look like a series of insidious financial crimes perpetuated by a menacing farmer and her deviant milkman accomplice," Doss, a former member of Rawesome, told Natural News. "It's completely ridiculous. Anyone who's paying attention can easily see through the smoke and mirrors enough to know that something else is going on here. That is why we started the petition."
To Doss and others, the petition is much more than just a direct message to the Ventura County District Attorney's office. It also symbolizes the beginning of a renewed activist vigor among them. Their mission is not only to help their friends Sharon and James, but also to help defend food and civil rights, while raising awareness of similar injustices happening across the nation.
And who better than an army of well informed, health-conscious Natural News readers to help them take that fight to the next level? Please go NOW to the link below to sign and share the freedom petition: www.change.org
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