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No charges in 'unusual' raid of ex-newsman's home

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office has decided against filing drug charges against former newsman Brian Bothun, whose Atherton home was raided by 11 police officers and a drug-sniffing dog in October, according to reports in the Palo Alto Daily Post and the Menlo Park Almanac.

In the raid, probation officers, Atherton police and members of the computer crime task force combed Bothun’s home and found 0.01 gram of methamphetamine, which has a street value of 60 cents, according to the Post. The search was permitted because Bothun, 48, was on probation in a 2008 misdemeanor drug case out of Menlo Park — a conviction San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Richard Livermore cleared from Bothun’s record this month.

The search was conducted at the end of Bothun’s probation period and authorities would not say why they decided to raid the former newsman’s home.

Bothun, who was with the Palo Alto Daily News from 1996 to 2005, wrote a series of stories that cost then Atherton Police Chief Steve Cader his job. Bothun discovered that Cader had voted illegally in an Atherton tax election.

Current Atherton Police Chief Mike Guerra told the Post that Bothun wasn’t being targeted by police and that policy carried out the search at the request of the Probation Department.

Guerra confirmed that his department doesn’t often conduct raids in misdemeanor probation cases.

Dan Barton, Bothun’s attorney, told the Post that he had never heard of such a raid in a misdemeanor probation case. “It’s a phenomenal display of force and an unusual display of force for a misdemeanor probation. It has got to be personal,” Barton said.

Barton said he hopes the police harassment of Bothun will now end.

Guerra, the police chief, said his officers haven’t been harassing Bothun, saying none of them have ever stopped the former newsman while he was walking around or driving.

Disclosure: The Press Club’s webmaster, Dave Price, was Bothun’s boss at the Daily News.

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