The Michael Phelps investigation intensified Saturday morning with armed deputies raiding a Lake Murray home, then proceeding to a Five Points-area party house where the Olympic champion was pictured in November holding a marijuana pipe, lawyers involved in the case say.
Before the day was over, seven people were charged with misdemeanor marijuana charges.
Three people were charged with simple marijuana possession after a small amount was seized in the raid at the home in a lakefront neighborhood. Four others were charged with simple marijuana possession in the second raid, longtime Columbia attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Joe McCulloch told The State on Thursday.
"He's sitting there on Saturday, and 12 cops kick in the door with guns drawn, search the house, and find 5, maybe 6 grams of pot," Harpootlian said about his client, who was arrested in the first raid at the Wells Point Drive home near Ballentine.
"They never asked him, 'Who sold you the pot?'" Harpootlian continued. "They were asking, 'Were you at the party with Michael Phelps? Did you see him using marijuana?' It was all about Michael Phelps."
The charges resulted from Saturday's raids and are not connected to the November party that Phelps attended.
Harpootlian, the former top prosecutor for Richland and Kershaw counties, and McCulloch contend Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is conducting an overzealous investigation of their clients to try to get evidence against Phelps.
"The sheriff's department is deploying resources they are normally reserving for major drug dealers and major criminals," said McCulloch, also a former prosecutor.
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