by Kari Boiter
Located in rural Petersburg, Michigan – about 70 miles southwest of Detroit – the Duval farm has been in the family for generations. The property is being seized by the federal government through civil forfeiture proceedings because of the state-registered medical marijuana greenhouses that were kept on the land. Jeremy and Jerry Duval were convicted at trial and sentenced to five and ten years in prison, respectively. Apparently unsatisfied with robbing a father and son of their freedom, the government has decided to go after the family farm.
Jerry Duval Sr. and his wife, Sharon, purchased the 12-acre parcel of land in the 60’s and spent most of their adult lives paying off the deed in $100 per month increments. The property was split into two pieces with Sharon and Jerry Sr. occupying a four-acre portion and Jerry Jr. and his wife, Tracey, living on the other eight acres. The family also owned a 15-acre property that Jeremy called home and an 80-acre parcel that was used strictly for farming.
When heavily armed federal agents stormed Jerry’s farm, they sent a message to Sharon as well. Threatening to shoot the grandmother in her 70’s if she didn’t stand aside, the machine gun toting militia made a quick and dirty exit by driving their tanks through her gated property next door. Sharon’s dream of retiring on the farm has become a living nightmare. Despite being prescribed anxiety medication to deal with the persistent panic attacks, she made the tough decision to sell the farm and move out of state. The 100-acre portion that her grandchildren were supposed to inherit was also put up for sale to pay off the mounting legal debt. Jerry’s 8-acre farm is all that is left of the property that three generations worked their whole lives to pay for and it’s on track to be handed over to the government this summer.
Jerry’s wife, Tracey, has moved to a small 1,000 square foot home in a nearby town, in preparation for the forfeiture. In addition to sending her husband to prison for ten years and her stepson’s five-year sentence, the government has displaced this loving mother from the home she has built over the last two decades.
Enough is enough! It’s time to take back our communities and reform the forfeiture laws that allow generations of hard work to turn to dust.
My question is….Where was the cowardly sheriff whose swore oath was to protect their rights?