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Md. Secret Service officer sues Okla. narcotics agent

Saturday - 6/25/2011, 2:55pm  ET

By ZIVA BRANSTETTER
Tulsa World

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A U.S. Secret Service officer from Maryland has sued an Oklahoma narcotics agent, claiming the agent used excessive force during a 2008 search of the federal officer's home as part of a steroids investigation.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Lester Blount Jr. of Prince Georges County, Md., against Brian Surber, an agent for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

The suit claims Surber was part of a group of law enforcement agents who raided Blount's Maryland home in 2008 and held his family at gunpoint. Blount's children at the time were ages 1, 3 and 8. His wife, Miriam Blount, is also a plaintiff in the suit.

There is no record of charges being filed against Blount in the case.

The suit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, seeks unspecified damages for civil rights violations and malicious prosecution. It claims Surber used excessive force and made false statements in the search warrant affidavit.

Blount, an officer with the Secret Service, provides security at federal facilities and functions. He confirmed he is still employed with the Secret Service and referred additional comment to his attorney.

Josh Stockton, an attorney representing Blount, said, "We have raised serious allegations and look forward to proving them in court."

Mark Woodward, a spokesman for OBNDD, said the agency could not comment on a pending legal matter.

The search occurred July 17, 2008, and was part of an ongoing steroids investigation by the OBNDD, the suit claims.

The bureau began the steroids investigation in January 2007, and at least 11 people have been arrested since then, records show. In a 2009 press release, Woodward described the investigation as "far-reaching" and said it involved suspects in Oklahoma and other states.

"The drugs are being manufactured and distributed within a growing circle of individuals tied to competitive body building," Woodward said in the release.

Blount's lawsuit claims a search warrant affidavit prepared by Surber "included false, misleading and/or fabricated allegations."

In 2008, Surber identified himself in a search warrant affidavit as a special agent based in Tulsa. He is also a licensed attorney, former general counsel of OBNDD and former assistant district attorney, records show.

"The search warrant was based on unverified allegations of steroid possession and distribution and the fact that Mr. Blount had a `muscular physique,' " the suit states.

A SWAT team from the Maryland State Police, Secret Service agents and agents from the OBNDD accompanied Surber on the raid, it states. All of the officers were armed, and they held the family at gunpoint during the search, the suit states.

"No evidence of drug use or drug dealing was discovered," it states.

Woodward declined to say how many OBNDD agents went to Maryland for the search or to provide a copy of the search warrant.

Before serving the search warrant, Surber went to the Secret Service "and told Mr. Blount's supervisors that he was a `drug user and dealer.' As a result of this baseless and inflammatory accusation, Mr. Blount was placed on administrative leave, without pay, for a total of 22 months," the suit states.

"The charges, for which the unsupported search warrant was issued, were eventually dropped by Defendant because Mr. Blount is not, in fact, a drug user or dealer," it states.

A check of court files in Oklahoma County and Maryland shows no record of charges or a search warrant return being filed in the case.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com


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