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Compton : Dymally: 'Pot' Case Shaky

November 27, 1986

Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton) has written a letter to Councilman Maxcy D. Filer suggesting that "justice (would) be well served" if the city dropped a public nuisance proceeding against a woman accused of growing three marijuana plants in her backyard.

On Tuesday, the council is to continue hearing evidence against Francesca Houpe, who was arrested in August after police reported finding the plants. Houpe denied growing any marijuana and contended that her arrest was meant to intimidate her from testifying in a felony election fraud case against Councilman Floyd A. James.

Police acknowledged that they went to Houpe's house after receiving a tip through James. And James acknowledged discussing her arrest with City Atty. Wesley Fenderson Jr., who then recommended that the council launch nuisance proceedings--the first step in a process that could lead to the confiscation of Houpe's house.

Writing "as a friend of over 24 years," Dymally reminded Filer that the Los Angeles County district attorney has twice declined to file criminal charges against Houpe. "I fully support the city's right to police and isolate those people who are guilty of dealing in illegal substances," the congressman wrote. "But this case is clouded by a great deal of questions and charges of conspiracy, and conflict."

Dymally has even figured in the controversy. At a preliminary hearing in James' election fraud case, Houpe testified that she went to the congressman's office in spring, 1985, to complain that the councilman appeared to be illegally offering record albums to voters in return for their pledge of support. Houpe said she was directed to an attorney, who agreed to sue James on behalf of her and the councilman's opponent, Dymally aide Patricia Moore.

Copies of Dymally's letter to Filer were made available to reporters. But Filer said he has not received it and doesn't plan to read it for fear that it might prejudice his decision in the nuisance case.

A Dymally spokesman said the congressman wrote Filer--and not the full council--because of their long friendship.

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