Whitesburg KY
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ATF agents toss reporter’s home

Federal agents accompanied by Kentucky State Police, served a search warrant on the home of Mountain Eagle reporter William Farley last week, a few days after the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department raided his next-door neighbor and brother-in-law.

Farley was not charged with any crime, and he said nothing belonging to him or his immediate family was taken.

Farley, 67, who is a college professor and parttime reporter, said he had just returned home from the recreation center when he saw blue lights flashing outside his window and went to the door to see what was happening. He said when he went outside, there were at approximately 10 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents and eight state troopers in his front yard, at least two with long guns.

“They were pretty harsh at first, but the guy in charge told me I wasn’t in any trouble after they saw I was going to cooperate,” Farley said. He said while the agents did not touch him or point weapons at him, they “talked pretty rough”

Farley said he told them he has a heart condition and would answer their questions.

“I told them they could search anything they wanted and they sure as hell did,” he said. “They tore this house all to pieces.”

Farley is the brother-inlaw of Danny Robert Collins, who sheriff ’s deputies arrested a few days before and charged with trafficking in methamphetamines. The sheriff ’s department said they confiscated 1,800 grams of methamphetamines, 10 grams of heroin and more than $5,000 cash from Collins.

Farley’s family had traded houses with Collins a few years ago when he married Collins’s sister. He said Collins, who was a mechanic and had lived in the house for 30 years, kept the garage that is on the property and had never removed a safe from the basement of the house.

“He had about six guns in that safe and they took them,” he said.

Local police often use a procedure called “knock and talk,” which means they knock on the door and ask permission to search. A warrant is sometimes obtained in advance, but only served if the person refuses a voluntary search. Federal law enforcement is not known for conducting voluntary searches.

Kentucky State Police in Hazard said ATF Agent Jeff Baker, a former state trooper, has charge of the investigation and would have to make any statements about the warrant. The public information officer for the ATF Louisville Field Division did not return detailed telephone messages seeking comment about Farley’s home had been searched, why the agents did it in the manner they did, or what they found.

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