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DEA & Shorewood Cops Raid Woman's Home After She Shops at Indoor Garden Center

The woman said she only bought organic fertilizer for her hibiscus plant, but DEA agents and Shorewood police raided her house and arrested her.

Shorewood artist Angela Kirking and her attorney, Jeff Tomczak, after a hearing for her possession of marijuana case at the Will County Courthouse. Credit: Joseph Hosey
Shorewood artist Angela Kirking and her attorney, Jeff Tomczak, after a hearing for her possession of marijuana case at the Will County Courthouse. Credit: Joseph Hosey
DEA agents rooted through a Shorewood woman's garbage and stormed her home in an early morning raid after spotting her shopping at an indoor garden center they had been staking out.

Angela Kirking, 46, was rousted from her bed about 5 a.m. on October 11. Four DEA agents and five Shorewood cops were in her Ranchwood Drive home, according to a police report.

"They had a gun pointed at me when they said, 'Are there any illegal substances in your house?'" Kirking recalled.

There reportedly was—police said they found 9.3 grams of marijuana in Kirking's "art room."

The agents and police also reportedly found and seized a "plant portion" from Kirking's patio, three glass pipes and a bag, three scales, two books on how to grow marijuana, a computer, and a zip drive.

The raid on Kirking's house marked the culmination of a nearly month-long investigation that involved federal agents searching through her garbage and comparing her electric bill to those of a couple neighbors. In the end, police and prosecutors apparently believed they had enough to charge Kirking with nothing more than a pair of misdemeanors.

Kirking's attorney, Jeff Tomczak, is now fighting to get the case thrown out. He claims the feds and Shorewood cops never should have been granted the search warrant that allowed them into Kirking's home in the first place.

"The lady comes under investigation simply because she shopped at a particular store," Tomczak said during a Friday hearing in front of Will County Judge Bennett Braun.

That store was Midwest Hydroganics on Renwick Road in Crest Hill.

In a complaint for a search warrant, a DEA agent wrote that he was staking out Midwest Hydroganics on Sept. 17 because his previous surveillance there "led to the arrests of subjects for production of cannabis sativa plants and possession of cannabis."

During his stakeout, the agent noticed Kirking "exit the front door of the store carrying a green plastic bag containing unknown items."

Kirking said the green plastic bag held organic fertilizer she bought for her hybrid hibiscus She needs to use organic fertilizer, she explained, because she eats the plant and does not want to be poisoned.

The agent tailed Kirking from Midwest Hydroganics back to her place in Shorewood and later got his hands on her electric bills from February 2013 through September. Compared to two of her neighbors, the bills were "consistently higher," according to the complaint for the search warrant.

During Friday's hearing, Judge Braun interjected that ComEd routinely notifies him that his electric bills are higher than average. Still, the agent maintained in the complaint, he knew through his "experience (that) persons involved in the cultivation of marijuana utilize a large supply of electricity to cultivate the plants during the growing cycles."

Three weeks later, at 4:15 in the morning, two DEA agents "conducted an investigative garbage pull" at Kirking's residence, the complaint said. After going through her trash, the agents reportedly found "multiple green plant stems" that smelled strongly of "green cannabis."

Three days after that the agents and police pulled Kirking's husband over as he left for work at 4:50 a.m., according to police reports. The cops and agents informed the husband of the search warrant and asked him to open his door to them, a report said. Kirking said her terrier was sleeping on her bed with her when the agents woke her up.

Judge Braun said he would decide whether to toss the search warrant—and effectively kill the case—later this month.

Even after her ordeal—and the possibility she might be spied on by the feds—Kirking, an artist who does face-painting at fairs, said she would like to shop at Midwest Hydroganics again.

"I'd love to," she said. "I'd love to send all my friends there to see how far they take this."

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Jameel Johnson May 05, 2014 at 05:55 PM
My wife and I are putting a lot of work into the garden. It would be really disappointing if it doesn't make it. Our home would look so much better if it does survive the summer though. http://www.mendelsmowing.com.au
Mark S May 05, 2014 at 06:24 PM
Only the Psychopaths in charge of this Country would spend Thousands of dollars to raid a Woman's home, who had less than a half ounce of weed..BRILLIANT!! is there ANY common sense in Government?????
Dense much? May 08, 2014 at 09:12 AM
government has gotten too big and anal, time for a new government.
lorna dune May 13, 2014 at 12:49 PM
If I could sell my house, I would get the hell out of Shorewood! I don't want to live where the police terrorizes its residents. Chicago doles out tickets for possession, Shorewood ruins lives. Waste of taxpayers money. The War on Drugs has proven to be a huge waste of time and money, unless you have invested in corporate owned prisons. In that case, it is very lucrative, but it has still not solved the issues. Criminalizing marijuana just keeps the drug cartels in business.
john doe May 27, 2014 at 06:06 PM
must raise a question, how come just this store, why not others. If this is such a success why not stake out the other store in Will County. I hinted to the reason and my post was taken down. Not sure the owner deserves all this support.

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