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Ga. probes apparent celebrity pandering

July 14, 2004 at 2:12 PM

ATLANTA, July 14 (UPI) -- U.S. drug agents want to meet with Georgia officials because agents who seized marijuana had to wait while state troopers gave a chopper ride to a celebrity.

The Drug Enforcement Agency would like an explanation for the 90-minute delay that occurred June 28 as a Georgia helicopter pilot let NASCAR driver Bill Elliott ride in and even fly the aircraft, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"We've had a good working relationship with the governor's task force, and hopefully this will get worked out," said Ruth Porter-Whipple, a spokeswoman with the DEA, which this year gave $477,000 to support the Governor's Task Force on Drug Suppression.

On Monday the Georgia Department of Public Safety, which is the lead agency of the task force, began an internal investigation.

"I'm still trying to gather all the facts, (but) it doesn't sound good," said Capt. Larry Smith, who supervises the State Patrol's aviation unit.

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