Feds Steal ‘Camp Zoe’ in Missouri, Prepare To Imprison Its Owner

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Entrepreneur and musician James Tebeau, whose Camp Zoe concert venue was one of Shannon County, Missouri’s largest employers, has accepted a plea agreement in which he will forfeit his 350 acre property and serve a prison sentence for “maintaining a drug-involved premises.”

Tebeau played bass in an ensemble called the Schwag Band and hosted a number of concert events including the annual “Schwagstock” festival. The agreement stipulates that Tebeau neither participated in drug sales, nor did he profit from them. Yet he faces a prison term of two and a half years and the loss of his property.

According to the Feds, Tebeau’s crime was to permit the sale of marijuana, LDS LSD and mushrooms, while instructing employees to evict people who sold heroin, cocaine, crack, meth, and nitrous oxide. However, the same can be said of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which abetted the sale of many controlled substances for four years following an August 2006 arrest of two people at the camp for selling hallucinogenic mushrooms. Over that four-year period, informants employed by the State Police conducted hundreds of undercover purchases, including many of the hard drugs Tebeau was seeking to ban from his premises.

The “Justice” Department’s press release (which was reproduced nearly verbatim by the few media outlets that covered the story) made a point of noting that Tebeau “was aware that the term `schwag’ was a slang term for low-grade marijuana and he purposely adopted that name for his music festivals and band.” If this is evidence of evil intent, the Feds should begin criminal proceedings against the Doobie Brothers and the management of any venue where that classic rock band performs.

At about 7:30 a.m. on November 1, 2010 — a few hours after the finale of the annual “Spookstock” music festival — a multi-jurisdictional task force invaded Camp Zoe. According to one eyewitness, “Every letter of the alphabet was represented…There were people from the DEA, the IRS, the Highway Patrol, from Homeland Security, the local police and country Sheriff’s Office. There was a group from the Rolla Police Department, which is two counties away from here.”

One camp staffer was briefly stopped by police on nearby Highway 19 as he was driving his children to school. He was separated from his wife and children at the point of an M-16 rifle. The detainee was taken into the camp and briefly questioned before being released.

Camp Zoe was placed under lock-down while the raiders rummaged through every corner of the campground, intimidating staff and visitors and seizing personal items (including cash). As this was going on another federal contingent was dispatched to clean out the personal and business accounts of Jimmy Tebeau, the musician and entrepreneur who owns and operates the campground.

The Feds “just siphoned away all of his money, and then filed a civil asset forfeiture lawsuit seeking to seize his property,” protests attorney Dan Viets, who has volunteered to represent Tebeau. “This would mean that he wouldn’t have the money needed to fight the seizure in court.” The Feds clearly sought to confiscate Camp Zoe from the beginning, and they took exceptional care to guarantee that Tebeau couldn’t mount an effective defense of his property.

One indigestibly ironic aspect of this story is the fact that Tebeau’s case was heard in before a federal court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri before U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh. Judge Limbaugh’s famous cousin, GOP radio mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh, who was caught “doctor shopping” in service of an addiction to Oxycontin – a prescription painkiller described by one DEA official as stronger than heroin. Rather than going to prison, Limbaugh paid Palm Beach County $30,000 to defray the costs of the investigation and agreed to undergo 18 months of physician-assisted therapy.

Rush Limbaugh’s net worth is estimated to be in excess of $400 million, and his annual income more $30 million. He owns several homes and a number of private aircraft. He was certainly a ripe target for prosecution and “asset forfeiture” — or he would have been, had he been a commoner like Jimmy Tebeau, rather than the politically connected grandson of retired federal Judge Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr., whose name is affixed to the courthouse where the entertainer’s cousin consummated the theft of Tebeau’s business and property.

Go here for details and background about the Federal theft of Camp Zoe.

11:20 pm on June 13, 2012