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Marijuana case vs. Bernie Goetz dismissed

September 10, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — A low-level marijuana case against 1980s subway shooter Bernie Goetz has been dismissed after a judge concluded the clock ran out for trying it.

Goetz, 65, was busted in December on charges he sold $30 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer.

In 1984, Goetz was branded the “subway vigilante” when he shot four black teens with an illegal handgun on a Manhattan subway train. Goetz said it was self-defense and the youths intended to mug him. One of the teens was paralyzed.

The shooting brought to the surface long-smoldering urban issues of race, crime and quality of life. It also thrust Goetz, a white self-employed electronics expert, into the role of spokesman for what some considered a justified form of vigilantism.

Goetz was cleared of attempted murder charges and spent 250 days in jail in 1987 for a weapons conviction in the case.

He was offered a plea deal involving 10 days of community service. Goetz rejected it for a host of reasons, saying he felt coerced into taking the money from the undercover officer and that police are too aggressive nowadays.

His lawyer, Danielle Iredale, had asked a judge to dismiss the case for lack of a speedy trial.

On Wednesday, Judge Laurie Peterson concluded that prosecutors missed the window by 14 days.

The district attorney’s office had no comment. A message left with Goetz wasn’t immediately returned.

“I’m very anti-crime — everybody knows that. This is just a waste of government resources,” he said after an April court date, arguing that prosecutors in general shouldn’t pursue low-level marijuana cases..