The Norman City Council member charged with seven counts of possession of drug paraphernalia now has financial support from a national advocacy group.
Stephen Holman is the general manager of the Friendly Market in Norman which was raided twice in December.
The group's big cause is fighting civil asset forfeiture.
7th ward councilman Holman thinks he is the victim of an illegal seizure. Thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise were seized last month following the two raids on the shop.
“I didn't feel like we were breaking any laws. We don't sell any illegal substances here,” Holman said.
A tip led investigators to haul off glass pipes, rolling paper and cash from the Friendly Market in December.
“I am aware of the history that Norman police and other law enforcement agencies on businesses that sell glass pipes. I expected that they would probably come in at some point,” Holman said.
He maintains the pipes taken in December were for tobacco use and says some law enforcement agencies believe glass pipes should never be sold no matter their intended purpose.
“We believe that it's not drug paraphernalia when there is no drugs and unless you make it clear to me that you are going to use it illegally and if i still sell it to you after that then i am breaking the law,” he said.
Several thousands of dollars’ worth of glass pipes and cash were taken during those raids, money and merchandise confiscated, Holman said, as part of asset forfeiture.
“The way it's set up right now asset forfeiture, law enforcement has the ability to under any kind of suspicion can take your property and your money and they don't have to charge you with a crime,” he said.
Now, with help from his local attorneys and the DKT Liberty Project providing funding and legal aid, Holman is optimistic the charges against him will be dropped and his property returned.
Holman said despite the charges against him, he has not been asked to step down from his seat on city council. In fact, he said there are several council members who are quietly supporting his fight.