As many as eight people have been arrested on drug charges in an effort to build a marijuana possession case against Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, an attorney for one of the defendants confirmed this morning.
Longtime Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian said Richland County Sheriff's deputies arrested his client - whom he declined to identify -- in a raid Saturday at his Lake Murray-area home after seizing a small amount of marijuana.
"He's sitting there on Saturday, and 12 cops kick in the door with guns drawn, search his house and find 5, maybe 6, grams of pot," Harpootlian said."They never asked him, 'Who sold you the pot?' ... They were asking, 'Were you at the party with Michael Phelps? Did you see him using marijuana?' It was all about Michael Phelps."
Local defense attorney Joseph McCulloch also said he is representing someone in the case.
Harpootlian, a former solicitor for Richland and Kershaw counties, said in his entire legal career he had "never seen a search warrant executed for simple possession of marijuana."
Harpootlian said deputies arrested another person who was with his client, adding the pair were roommates at the Blossom Street home where Phelps attended a November party. As many as six other people have been charged connection with the Richland County Sheriff's Department investigation, several of whom were charged after deputies recently raided the Blossom Street home, he said.
"All these people have been asked the same questions," Harpootlian said. "It's all about Michael Phelps."
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