Drug-related charges dismissed against former Coast surgeon

mbbaker@sunherald.comJanuary 10, 2012 

JACKSON COUNTY -- A Jackson County judge Tuesday signed off on an order dismissing drug-related charges against Dr. David Bruce Allen, a retired heart surgeon who was jailed 14 months before a mistrial was declared at his trial last year.

Allen was arrested in 2009 on charges accusing him of growing marijuana on his 50-acre farm on Mississippi 63 in the Escatawpa community, also known as “The Blue Hole.”

Allen, who had been a medical marijuana doctor in California, was released from the Jackson County jail in February after the mistrial was declared on charges of manufacturing and transporting a controlled substance. Circuit Court Judge Robert Krebs dismissed four other charge against Allen, 55, because of a lack of evidence.

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence released a statement Tuesday announcing his decision not to retry the case, instead dismissing the remaining two charges against Allen.

He said the jury’s inability to reach a verdict at Allen’s trial “casts doubt on the sufficiency of the evidence in light of the fact that there is no new evidence at a re-trial of this matter.”

“The state of Mississippi has reviewed the transcript of the Feb. 7, 2011, trial and does not feel there would be evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict ... (Allen) ...in light of the fact that there was no actual grown marijuana found on the property and no new evidence exists which could be offered at a subsequent trial. Further, the alleged transfer of a controlled substance was not done in the presence of law enforcement but was based solely on the testimony of a lay witness.”

Allen’s attorney, Michael Crosby, said Tuesday he learned of the decision after he called to check on a hearing in the case, which had been set for Friday. He said the District Attorney’s Office contacted him later and told him to check his fax machine. There, he said, was the order dismissing the remaining charges against Allen.

“This has been a long ordeal but we have a very just conclusion,” Crosby said. “I am thankful that they were willing to look at the evidence and review the transcript and make the right decision instead of putting Jackson County through another expensive trial.”

Allen, reached Tuesday in California, said Crosby’s work on the case ultimately led to his freedom.

“He saved my life, and I’m just lucky to have survived this,” Allen said. “I feel vindicated but I was tortured during this. I used to do heart surgery and I thought heart surgery was stressful. You are the only person in the room who can save that person. That puts a lot of stress on you. I can now tell you how much more stressful doing criminal law is. The psychological trauma of practicing criminal law is unbelievable. Mr. Crosby saved my life.”

In December, Circuit Court Judge Kathy King Jackson signed an order allowing Allen to keep his land and other property seized in the marijuana investigation. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County seized the property following a raid there.

Allen initially was accused of growing marijuana on his property and shipping hashish from California to Mississippi for his sister and brother-in-law, Gail and Rodney Lee, to sell.

Narcotics agents seized marijuana seeds but no pot plants, according to court testimony.

Allen’s sister and brother-in-law were living on the property when it was raided. They were arrested on related charges, but their charges were dismissed after they agreed to testify for the state.

Allen retired as a heart surgeon in 2007 after working about 15 years at a clinic in Pascagoula.

He had medical privileges to practice at Singing River Hospital.

Lt. Curtis Spiers, who was commander of the Narcotics Task Force during the Allen investigation, was transferred to a federal assignment in November. When asked if the transfer had anything to do with the Allen case, Byrd said in an earlier interview he could not discuss personnel issues. He did say Spiers expressed an interest in a federal assignment and “was the best man for the job.”

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