A man recently arrested by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) for allegedly selling drugs to homeless people in Venice is claiming the entire incident was falsified in retaliation for an earlier complaint filed against the department.

Sheriff’s Deputies said they arrested Gary Featherstone on July 22 recovering PCP, Methamphetamine and more than $15,000 in cash.

According to LASD, Featherstone is a self-proclaimed homeless advocate who operates “Homeless Enterprise” from a tent on 3rd Avenue, where he sells sodas, candy, and other snacks and beverages to the local homeless population. “Homeless Enterprise” is registered with the city of Los Angeles Finance Department.

“This is another clear example of how several people are using the veil of outreach to run criminal enterprises and exploit the already marginalized population of county residents who are experiencing homelessness,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva. “It’s time for common sense, compassionate regulation of public space. It’s time for politicians to stop using the homeless population as a platform and for them to either help law enforcement keep the community safe or get out of the way.”

LASD said they made the arrest after “countless hours of surveillance” where they saw Featherstone complete hand-to-hand narcotics transactions.

Featherstone was released on Monday and issued several lengthy Facebook statements denying any wrongdoing.

Featherstone said the drugs were found along a wall area near his tent that is used by several homeless residents. He said the cash was a combination of money withdrawn from the bank and winners from a poker game.

Featherstone said the arrest was part of an election strategy by the Sheriff himself.

“The Los Angeles County Sheriff has been in trouble with the County Supervisors since he took office,” he said. “If the Supervisors had the power to fire him, he would have been fired a long time ago. Since he’s taken office, he has refused to deal with the gangs within his department. He has made several blunders, and right now he is in the dog house. So how does the Sheriff get out of the dog house? He says he’s going to send his deputies down to Venice to take care of the homeless problem.”

He said he filed a complaint against the Sheriff’s office on July 12 for several violations of his civil rights after Deputies harassed him and a friend in the parking lot of a local store.

“The Sheriff’s Department does not believe in following the rules, and this is why the County pays out so much money each year for lawsuits,” he said.


Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...