Confrontational pot smoker gets a year probation
Richard Tamaccio, a/k/a N.a. Poe, led a May rally on Independence Mall.
AN ORGANIZER of a marijuana-legalization rally that drew more than 100 people and ended in scuffles with law-enforcement officers on Independence Mall in May was sentenced in federal court yesterday to one year of probation.
Richard Tamaccio, 34, a Philadelphian comedian who goes by the stage name N.a. Poe, was also ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Perkin during his probation to, among other things:
* Not use drugs.
* Undergo drug testing.
* Not enter within 100 feet of Independence National Historical Park if there is a demonstration promoting a criminal act, such as smoking pot.
Tamaccio, a thin man dressed in a white button-down shirt, gray slacks and a tie with a small image of a marijuana leaf on it, was cleanshaven yesterday.
This look differed from that on May 18, when he sported a mustache and beard and wore a yellow T-shirt, jeans and a yellow hat at the fifth "Smoke Down Prohibition" rally at the People's Plaza on the mall, 5th and Market streets. There was a large police presence, including National Park Service rangers and Philly police.
Yesterday, Tamaccio took the stand and said he acted as the "master of ceremonies" at the rally, organized by PhillyNORML and the Panic Hour, a group he started that has, in his words, a "satirical website."
He admitted smoking pot and resisting arrest. One park ranger, Matt Edgar, suffered a shoulder injury resulting from his struggle with Tamaccio, who was thrown to the ground during his arrest.
Under questioning by his attorney, Edward Borden, Tamaccio said he regretted that the ranger got hurt. "We're not interested in confrontation with police. We're interested in legalizing marijuana."
Fifteen supporters filled the small courtroom gallery.
Tamaccio had pleaded guilty in July to interfering with a government employee, disorderly conduct and possessing a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Goldberg and the judge both noted in court yesterday that this case was not about whether pot should be legal or not, but about the fact that Tamaccio committed crimes by breaking laws.
Goldberg told the judge that Tamaccio has not changed his behavior since his arrest. "He's on video saying F the police and overwhelm them," said the prosecutor, who asked for a three-year probationary sentence.
Borden asked the judge to impose a fine, not probation. He said this was a case of civil disobedience. The judge responded: "You call this civil disobedience? These are commissions of crimes."
Tamaccio told a reporter he was "pleased" with his sentence. "I feel justice was served."
About 90 minutes later, he posted on Facebook a photo of himself and his friends taken at the First Amendment granite slab on Independence Mall and wrote: "After all the bulls--- and Facebook stalking, all the government could stick me with is one year of probation. I had a lot of fun on the witness stand and am no longer banned from The Liberty Bell."