Monday, March 27, 2006

Tragedy for graduate student after being falsely accused of drug dealing by paid informant

Via Talk Left. Charles "Chuck" Plinton was a University of Akron graduate student with a full scholarship who talked about going into law enforcement one day. His life was tragically cut short by suicide after a paid police informant wrongly accused him of selling less than $100 worth of marijuana, leading the University to kick him out of school. Disturbingly, Plinton was disciplined by the University even though he'd already been acquitted of the charges in a criminal trial.

The informant, 35 year old Richard Dale Harris, was given a fake class schedule and dorm room by the University and paid $50 by police for every drug buy he made on Akron's campus. Harris claimed Plinton sold him marijuana twice, but time sheets showed Plinton was at his job during the first alleged sale and dorm surveillance tapes showed Plinton was dressed differently from the description given by Harris in the second alleged sale.

The evidence of Plinton's innocence was mounting when suddenly, three months after Plinton's arrest, "[t]he lead detective called the arresting officer and asked him to write a new, additional arrest report detailing an alleged confession that Plinton made as he was led away in handcuffs on April 26.

The officer, Jeff Newman, testified the three months went by because he was too busy with classes and other commitments."

It took the jury only 40 minutes to return a verdict of not-guilty.

But, the jury's verdict wasn't enough for the University of Akron, which went ahead with a school disciplinary hearing. By a vote of 3-2, the school's disciplinary board found Plinton "responsible" for "dealing drugs to a confidential informant." The school suspended him for a semester, took away his scholarship and stipend, and banned him from the dorms for life.

After a year of trying to recover from the ordeal, Plinton took his own life. According to his mother, "[t]he last thing on his lips was, 'I should have my degree.'"

The University continues to defend the results of the disciplinary hearing.

FIRE's "The Torch" also has more.

1 comment:

Jonathan Perri said...

This almost seemed impossible to me at first glance. Then I read that Chuck Plinton was black and it all made sense.
How can a judicial board go against the not guilty verdict of a jury? Any faculty member or student who looks at that information and then decides to ignore it, is serving a personal power trip and that is it. It seems so ignorant and insane that I just can't wrap my mind around it. Those people should lose their jobs.
I do not believe that this would have gone down the same way with a white student.