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Federal Agents Raid Home After Woman Takes Shopping Trip to Indoor Garden Center

Trending: A woman from Shorewood, Illinois found federal agents in her home and a gun in her face after going to an indoor garden center.

Shorewood artist Angela Kirking and her attorney, Jeff Tomczak, after a hearing for her possession of marijuana case at the Will County Courthouse. Credit: Joseph Hosey
Shorewood artist Angela Kirking and her attorney, Jeff Tomczak, after a hearing for her possession of marijuana case at the Will County Courthouse. Credit: Joseph Hosey
By Joseph Hosey

Shorewood, Illinois – DEA agents rooted through a woman's garbage and stormed her home in an early morning raid after spotting her shopping at an indoor garden center they had been staking out.

Angela Kirking, 46, was rousted from her bed about 5 a.m. on October 11. Four DEA agents and five cops were in her home, according to a police report.

"They had a gun pointed at me when they said, 'Are there any illegal substances in your house?'" Kirking recalled.

There reportedly was—police said they found 9.3 grams of marijuana in Kirking's "art room."

The agents and police also reportedly found and seized a "plant portion" from Kirking's patio, three glass pipes and a bag, three scales, two books on how to grow marijuana, a computer, and a zip drive.

The raid on Kirking's house marked the culmination of a nearly month-long investigation that involved federal agents searching through her garbage and comparing her electric bill to those of neighbors. In the end, police and prosecutors apparently believed they had enough to charge Kirking with nothing more than a pair of misdemeanors.

Kirking's attorney, Jeff Tomczak, is now fighting to get the case thrown out. He claims the feds and Shorewood police never should have been granted the search warrant that allowed them into Kirking's home.

"The lady comes under investigation simply because she shopped at a particular store," Tomczak said during a Friday hearing in front of Will County Judge Bennett Braun.

That store was Midwest Hydroganics on Renwick Road in Crest Hill, Illinois.

In a complaint for a search warrant, a DEA agent wrote that he was staking out Midwest Hydroganics on Sept. 17 because his previous surveillance there "led to the arrests of subjects for production of cannabis sativa plants and possession of cannabis."

During his stakeout, the agent noticed Kirking "exit the front door of the store carrying a green plastic bag containing unknown items."

Kirking said the green plastic bag held organic fertilizer she bought for her hybrid hibiscus. She needs to use organic fertilizer, she explained, because she eats the plant and does not want to be poisoned.

The agent tailed Kirking from Midwest Hydroganics back to her home and later got his hands on her electric bills from February 2013 through September. Compared to two of her neighbors, the bills were "consistently higher," according to the complaint for the search warrant.

During Friday's hearing, Judge Braun interjected that ComEd routinely notifies him that his electric bills are higher than average. Still, the agent maintained in the complaint, he knew through his "experience (that) persons involved in the cultivation of marijuana utilize a large supply of electricity to cultivate the plants during the growing cycles."

Three weeks later, at 4:15 in the morning, two DEA agents "conducted an investigative garbage pull" at Kirking's residence, the complaint said. After going through her trash, the agents reportedly found "multiple green plant stems" that smelled strongly of "green cannabis."

Judge Braun said he would decide whether to toss the search warrant—and effectively kill the case—later this month.

Trending on Patch is a category showcasing popular stories from across Patch's network of 900 local news sites.
Grumpy Old Man April 08, 2014 at 10:23 AM
In 1919 the moralizing ninnies finally got their way and we passed the 18th Amendment. That, of course, didn't shut down the speakeasies, the power brokers and politicians had their stashes of alcohol and Al Capone and the Boys made a killing and grew into powerhouses. Cops, prosecutors and judges, politicians were bribed and corrupted. The streets of Chicago, New York and other cities had blood running in the streets as one gang faction fought another for control (even after Meyer Lansky and the New York "commission" drew up a plan to divide the spoils and organize the territory). Sound familiar? We have our inner cities running with blood as the gang bangers fight for control of the profits, use violence as a means of initiating the new generation of gang bangers and cops, judges, prosecutors and others are still being corrupted. We are seeing the militarization of law enforcement - talk about assault rifles - you are more likely to experience one of these DEA, FBI or local SWAT teams with an "assault rifle" than a citizen. This incident is only one of many. The drug wars are not bringing peace to the inner cities, they are not reducing racial tensions and frictions, they are not improving our lives or our communities. We have drones flying around (and it took a libertarian to force Holder to announce that they wouldn't have armed drones shooting at American citizens in the U. S.), the NSA monitoring our e-mails, etc. (and just why am I to believe this is only for catching terrorists and not drug traders or someone smoking a joint here and there?). All drugs should be legalized (no I do not minimize the horrid effects they have on people or advocate their use), the gangs put out of the business of selling them, and the DEA disbanded (and SWAT teams reserved for where they are really needed - like when some real terrorist is holding hostages, not crashing into homes of people who might be smoking or even harvesting some pot. We repealed prohibition and we should end the drug wars - oh my the way while you drug warriors are discussing your next military type plans to stop the use of cannabis over your two martini lunch - alcohol is a drug.
R Luno April 09, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Decidedly an over=reach by 'our' Govt. but the 'idiots' should not have had any marijuana - Bad judgement guys!
knee jerk April 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM
The "Grumpy Old Man" makes a valid argument. I've heard of drug addicts robbing liquor stores for their next "fix" but have never heard of an alcoholic robbing the same liquor store for his next drink.
John Santaella April 11, 2014 at 02:16 PM
And you'll never hear of a pothead robbing anyone for a joint.

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