On Wednesday, June 20th, two uniformed officers of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office drove onto Brian Aberle’s property, unannounced. When Brian approached to greet them in the front yard, they drove away without offering even a hello. This wasn’t Brian’s first time being harassed by the Sheriff’s Office – and it likely wasn’t going to be his last. He immediately called and emailed the FBI in Atlanta to report the harassment. But little did he know that the next day, he’d be in sitting in solitary confinement at the Ashe County Detention Center with his house ransacked and unsecured:
On June 21, Timoth Moretz, Brian’s probation officer, came to Brian’s home with nine of his friends. They searched Brian’s home for almost two hours before arresting him for having a small bag of mushrooms in his freezer – mushrooms which he had harvested from his front yard.
When he was taken to jail, the officers refused to allow him to get his shoes, shirt, or any money from inside the house. They also refused to allow Brian to lock the door to his home. His bond was set at $50,000.00. Brian overheard their plan to return to his home and the plan was confirmed by an intake jailer. Two more felony charges were filed against him: One for possessing precursor chemicals and one for maintaining a home for the purpose of selling controlled substances. His bond was raised to $300,000.00.
Brian was held in isolation under 24-hour lockdown for 41 days. Much of this time he was assigned to the female dormitory. By assigning him to the female dormitory, it prevented hi from outside communication. Brian went six days in a row, then five days in a row without a shower.
On July 6th, only after filing a written grievance form and threatening Chief Jailer Captain Sharon Price with a civil lawsuit Brian was finally granted access to the phone, but only during late night hours. Toward the end of his lengthy stay in isolation, showers became more frequent.
Brian does not sell any controlled substances: He is in financial distress, lives without a vehicle, and pays $500 per month in rent obtained by legitimate computer networking consultation.
On the 3rd, 4th, and 5th weeks in isolation that was classified as medical Brian repeatedly attempted to be see by a nurse to no avail. Finally on July 18, he was seen by a doctor who prescribed sleeping pills which Brian refused. Then the doctor prescribed an antihistamine, which Brian also refused.
Brian has filed grievances through every deputy on every shift. As the unnecessary isolation became apparent, jailers began to break protocol to allow Brian to shower in general population. Administration still had a communication block which was witnessed by a sergeant who had never seen such a communication restriction before.
Please put an end to this gross injustice by placing phone calls to legal officials who can stop the harassment and malicious prosecution of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office.”
The Sheriff’s Office posted their raid to Facebook, and the local newspaper ran a similar article.