News Story

Man Who Speaks Out About Police Seizing His Property Without Charges is Arrested Hours Later

A man featured in a Dec. 3 Michigan Capitol Confidential story for being a medical marijuana user and having his property seized and money taken by police without being charged with a crime was arrested at 2 a.m. the next morning by the Michigan State Police within a day after the story was published.

Wally Kowalski says he was woken Wednesday to find the police at his door with a felony warrant. He was handcuffed and brought to the Van Buren County Jail where he spent the night in a cold cell without a pillow or blanket. He was arraigned in the morning and released after posting $1,000 on a $10,000 bond.

The police charged Kowalski with delivery and manufacture of 5 to 45 kilograms of marijuana, between 20 and 200 plants, a 7-year felony and/or carrying up to a $500,000 fine. He was also charged with distribution without remuneration, a misdemeanor.

Kowalski carries a medical marijuana card for himself and says he is the caregiver for four other valid cardholders. When police searched his house on Sept. 2, they could not find two caregiver cards. Kowalski says he lost the cards but did get replacements days later and turned them over to the police.

Under Michigan’s medical marijuana law, he is legally allowed to grow 12 plants per person. According to the seizure order, police found 55 plants.

When Kowalski asked if his arrest has anything to do with the report, he said police told him they have never heard of the publication.

“Originally, the detective on the case told me he would call me if they issued an arrest warrant so I could submit voluntarily. I can’t see the necessity of arresting me in the middle of the night,” Kowalski said.

His attorney, Daniel Grow thought the overnight arrest was unusual, as well.

“On these kinds of charges, I get most of my clients in during the day when the courts are opened and they can avoid a night’s stay in jail,” Grow said.

The commander of the Southwest Enforcement Team, Lieutenant Wayne Eddington, did not return a call for comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential began inquiring about civil asset forfeitures on Nov. 7. Eddington did return a phone call and spoke about forfeitures in general terms but was not asked about specific cases. On Nov. 21, Michigan Capitol Confidential called the Van Buren County Clerk for a copy of Kowalski’s petition for seizure order. On Nov. 24-26, Michigan Capitol Confidential left messages for Special Prosecutor Cory Johnson, Eddington and the media representative at the Michigan State Police about discussing specific cases. None of the calls were returned. On Nov. 24, police got the arrest warrant on Kowalski. Three days later, they released the hold on his bank accounts. He was arrested Dec. 4. Kowalski is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 15 and Dec. 17.

Here is the video of the Kowalski case:

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.