By Ron Lee
Centralia, Washington - On February 15, 2009 after attending a Centralia, Washington gun show, Russ Newkirk, a table holder at gun shows for over 2 decades, was pulled over for an expired license plate tag. Fife, Washington's officer Pomeroy, upon approaching Newkirk, stated that he could smell "un-burnt" marijuana in his car - to which Newkirk states he provided his approved medical marijuana card. However, that wasn't good enough for officer Pomeroy and he called for back-up and placed Newkirk under arrest. It was then when officer Pomeroy discovered a "cache" of weaponry in Newkirk's vehicle.
According to Newkirk it took 4 Fife squad cars to confiscate all the guns and gun-show paraphernalia, like knives, that he had after the show. The seized guns and related items represented Newkirk’s life savings – his livelihood. It took a reported 6 officers to place Newkirk under arrest even though he maintains he was very compliant.
Newkirk was transported to the Fife jail and booked, then taken to the Pierce County jail felony lock-up floor where he spent the next 3 days awaiting any kind of judicial review. According to Newkirk, “I was being led in chains to the courtroom, when they told me that I was being released.” This, unfortunately, came in the form of being released back to the Fife police department and back to the Fife jail where he spent another 2 days before seeing Judge Kevin Ringus.
According to the Fife police department one of the many weapons that had been in Newkirk's possession had come back as stolen. This was refuted by Newkirk who claims the weapon had been purchased legally in Washington some 12 years prior, and that the state of Washington had collected their tax on the transaction. This was pivotal to the case as it was the basis for keeping him in custody for such a lengthy period.
Asked about his experience Newkirk stated, "Being held for 5 full days before seeing a judge is an experience I hope none of you ever have to contend with!"
Newkirk felt fortunate to learn through his attorney Alan Singer, that the prosecutor assigned to his case was John Rodabaugh. Rodabaugh was Vice President of Washington Arms Collectors (WAC), an organization Newkirk had been involved with for a lengthy period of time. However, once he was charged with 7 counts of possession of dangerous weapons, marijuana possession, paraphernalia, obstructing an officer, false statement, and of course his expired vehicle registration tag, Newkirk realized Rodabaugh was going to be no ally.
Newkirk entered into a minor plea-bargain in order to get all of his weapons returned, however, after signing the plea agreement he was told that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATFE) had placed a hold on the guns and would be filing federal charges against him. For over a year after his arrest, Newkirk was still without his property.
It was at this point Newkirk enlisted the aid of the US~Observer. Newkirk recalled, "Within 72 hours of the US~Observer signing-on to help me, I had not one but two BATFE agents on my doorstep wanting to arrange the return of my property." Newkirk went on to say, "They said they had no interest in me or my guns and apologized for the more than one year they had been held."
It is reported that Rodabaugh still has 3 guns and several switchblades of Newkirk's and that his involvement in WAC has kept Newkirk from being allowed to participate in any of their shows, or elections, even though Newkirk had been nominated to the WAC Board of Directors. Newkirk has informed us that he has scheduled a meeting with the WAC Board on October 26, 2010. The Board should reinstate Newkirk at this time and they should direct their Vice-President John Rodabaugh to acknowledge and protect Newkirk’s constitutional rights, just as he should with a strictly 2nd Amendment issue.
It is the US~Observer's conclusion that the 2 years of hell Newkirk has paid for his "traffic" violation is enough. It is time for Rodabaugh to step-up and give back Newkirk's property, so everyone can be done with this ghastly case and move on with their lives. Should this not happen, Rodabaugh can rest assured that his days of being out of the limelight will be over.