Cissell Found Guilty of False Address on Petition

Cissell Found Guilty of False Address on Petitiongallowaycollens1

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 4, 2014)

Did Andrew Cissell, 25, knowingly give a false address when he turned in petitions to legalize personal amounts of marijuana in Ferndale?  That was the determination made by a six-member jury Tuesday who found him guilty of making a false statement on an initiative petition.  With sentencing scheduled for April 8, Cissell faces up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick told jurors that Cissell knowing lied on 55 pages worth of petitions that put Proposal A on the ballot last year.  The proposal, passed by over 2/3 of the voters, makes it legal by city ordinance for individuals aged 21 or older to possess an ounce or less of marijuana on private property, although State and Federal bans on the substance still apply.  Regardless of Cissell’s Street-Eatzz-Adconviction, the ordinance remains legal because no one challenged it in court.

In Cissell’s case evidence showed a series of address changes, including a change from Oak Park to Ferndale two days before he began gathering signatures for the initiative.  The address he used on W. Drayton Street is a home belonging to his father John Cissell, and the Prosecutor questioned whether Cissell was legally living there at the time or not.

In September Oakland County officers executed a search warrant at that address in an unrelated drug investigation, and the elder Cissell told police that his son had not lived there in 2-3 years.  Undercover officers testified that they did not see evidence of Andrew Cissell living at his father’s home, but did find personal items such as clothing, video games, two safes, mail and food at two other properties, both in Oak Park.  “Because of his nature he didn’t really have a set place,” Cissell said of his son.  “He didn’t have a stable residence, but he used my house as stability.”

Pernick called it “an address of convenience” and presented evidence of multiple addresses.  Cissell himself testified that he had claimed a Homestead Tax credit at the home he owned in Oak Park.  His essentialMichigan Medical Marijuana caregiver card was registered at a different address, and when he filed an affidavit to run for State Representative he used the Oak Park address.

Cissell said that changing his address to Oak Park had been a mistake, and that when he went to file his State Representative paperwork they had him change his address to Oak Park because that is where he wanted a voter database sent.  His defense was that the Oak Park property was purchased as a fixer-upper and did not have a bathroom in it.  During the home improvement, he also used the address for business purposes.  He stated that he used his father’s house in Ferndale to do laundry, to eat and to receive mail.  He also stated that he would sleep at his girlfriends’ house or with friends.

Where Cissell lived was the main issue of the case, since Ferndale City Charter requires that a person circulating a petition in the city be an elector in the city.

“If you’re going to use the law to change the law, you need to follow the law,” Pernick said.  “The defense wants to hold up this chaotic life as an excuse not to follow the rules.”

Cissell’s defense attorney Lisa Dwyer argued that sleeping at multiple locations was not uncommon or deceitful.  “We bridget and kevin deegan krause thank youhave Congressmen in this great country that have three addresses maybe more.  They live in Washington all year throughout the year, they come home for the holidays to their home state, and they probably have other places, here in Michigan up north, down in Florida, who knows.  But we know that’s the case.  Is it only the rich people who get to have multiple locations?”

Dwyer also argued that prosecution was targeting Cissell because of his actions trying to change marijuana law.  Cissell was part of the Safer Michigan coalition, which also had successful local ordinance petitions in Lansing and Jackson.  Their goal is decriminalization of marijuana.

“They want this conviction.  They knew they couldn’t set aside this election and that’s why their investigation was so thorough,” Dwyer said in her closing statement.  Cissell called his trial “a witch hunt.”  Cissell is also facing five felonies in connection with an undercover informant’s purchase of marijuana and the subsequent raids on the two Oak Park homes Cissell was affiliated with.

The jury deliberated at length, stuck in deadlock for hours, before finally returning a guilty verdict.

The trial for the marijuana distribution and manufacturing is expected to proceed in April.sidebar016grow

For previous stories, see:

moderntax – Ferndale Clinic Still Open After Raid – Ferndale Places Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Based Businesses.

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