Indianapolis Monthly

Up In Smoke

It was a Monday morning

in mid-June, the day after Father’s Day 2011, when Jimmy Romans was indicted by the federal government for selling marijuana.

He had been part of a network of friends from the west side of Indianapolis that had distributed thousands of pounds of weed in the area between 2006 and 2010. Jimmy was a wholesaler, a middleman, supplying a few select retailers with bulk amounts of product. Ten months prior, in August of 2010, one of those retailers had been pinched with a pillow of pot by the Indiana State Police and off ered a deal: turn confidential informant or take the rap for what’s in the trunk. A few weeks later, ISP had Jimmy on tape financing the deal of 24 pounds of weed.

The maximum penalty under Indiana law for dealing more than 10 pounds of marijuana was eight years. The prosecutor off ered Jimmy a better option: plead guilty to the Class C felony and agree not to contest any of the property the police had seized—which was already sitting in a warehouse ready to be sold at the next county auction—and in return he could do two years in a work-release facility. The decision was a no-brainer.

Despite the events of the previous 10 months—Jimmy’s wife had filed for divorce a few months after his arrest—he was in high spirits that Monday morning in mid-June. The tall, skinny redhead was two months from being a free man—good behavior and clean drug tests had cut his sentence in half—and he’d spent the previous afternoon visiting at home with his parents and three children. It almost felt like old times.

Jimmy swung by the small place he was renting, like he did every morning on his way to work. He had just let the dog out when he heard a commotion from outside. Jimmy opened the door to see two van loads of federal agents leaping onto the lawn and charging toward the front porch.

“Hey, here I am,” Jimmy said, clueless. “I’m on work release. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

The agents told him about an indictment coming out of Texas.

“Texas?” he said. “I’ve never even been to Texas.”

Jimmy didn’t know it yet, and he wouldn’t fully understand for nearly two years, but he’d just been

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