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History of Federal Medical Marijuana Cases in California & Elsewhere

Pending Cases

  • October 14, 2011 – Federal prosecutors are warning 16 Sacramento-area landlords they could lose their buildings for renting to marijuana dispensaries. United States Attorney Ben Wagner is following through on a threat formally announced at a news conference last Friday, and confirmed the number of landlord letters in an interview Thursday on Capital Public Radio.
  • October 13, 2011 – DEA agents along with BNE and one Mendocino county sheriff deputy raided the garden of Northstone Organics, one of the county-licensed medical marijuana growers. Northstone has been involved in a court case in Sonoma county after two of their drivers were caught there while transporting marijuana to medical patients in the Bay area. A Mendocino sheriff and county supervisor testified on behalf of Northstone in that trial.
  • Also on this day, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment Mark Bagdasarian and his son Ryan Bagdasarian with conspiring to cultivate and distribute marijuana and possessing marijuana through their Buds 4 Life dispensaries in Fresno. According to the criminal complaint, in June 2011, the Bagdasarian’s stores were searched and law enforcement officers found 3,669 marijuana plants, 219 pounds of processed marijuana, and more than $546,000 in cash. A more recent search yielded another 35 pounds of processed marijuana and $40,000 in cash.

October 12, 2011 – DEA agents, assisted by Pomona police officers, raided the Green Cross USA dispensary, seizing marijuana, edibles, hashish, hashish oil and some documents as part of an investigation. The property owner had received a letter from DEA threatening civil and criminal charges; local authorities had also moved to close the shop. No arrests have been made.

  • October 5, 2011 – In conjunction with a new federal assault on California’s medical marijuana providers, a criminal case was unsealed naming six defendants linked to a now-defunct North Hollywood marijuana collective called NoHo Caregivers. The organization allegedly sold marijuana to other stores, and sent marijuana to affiliates in New York and Pennsylvania – distributed approximately 600 to 700 pounds of marijuana per month, according to the indictment. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $14.7 million. The defendants named in the NoHo Caregivers indictment are Paul A. Montoya, Noah Joel Kleinman, Kathy Thabet, James Stanley, Bryant Watson, andCasey Wheat.

Prosecutors also filed three forfeiture actions against owners of buildings where The Wildomar Patients Compassionate Group, Montclair Caregivers in San Bernardino County, and eight stores located in a two-story strip mall at 26402 Raymond Way in Lake Forest.

In addition to the criminal case and the forfeiture actions, the United States Attorney’s Office sent dozens of letters yesterday to people affiliated with 38 marijuana dispensaries in selected cities across the Southland. Those receiving letters are warned that the stores are operating in violation of federal law and that they have two weeks to “take the necessary steps to discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana” at the stores. The letters note that the operation of a marijuana store “may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines, and forfeiture of assets, including the real property on which the dispensary is operating and any money you receive (or have received) from the dispensary operator.”

The cities are:

  • Orange County – the cities of Lake Forest, Dana Point, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, and Rancho Santa Margarita;
  • Riverside County – the cities of Murrieta, Wildomar, and Temecula; and
  • Inland Empire – the cities of Pomona, Claremont, Upland, Montclair, and Chino.

Also receiving a letter was the building owner of the state’s longest-operating dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax. It warns the landlord that he could be liable for imprisonment of up to 40 years, forfeiture of the property, and forfeiture of all rental proceeds from the last 15 years for violating federal law if MAMM isn’t evicted.

Building owners for three dispensaries in San Francisco also received letters, as did the Ocean Beach Wellness Centers and Oasis Herbal Center in San Diego. In recent weeks, federal authorities seized the bank accounts of two dispensaries in Sacramento and announced a $2.4 million tax penalty against Harborside Health Center in Oakland.

  • July 20, 2011 - Jerry Laberdee, Dennis Whited, Russell Blake, Charles Wrightand Jon Vivian have been indicted on federal charges that arose from a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane, Washington earlier this year. The charges carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
  • July 13, 2011 – Ten people have pleaded not guilty to various federal charges of drug-trafficking conspiracy after approximately 30 law enforcement agencies executed 26 criminal search warrants in 13 Montana cities on March 14. Jason D. Burns, Joshua L. Schultz and Jesse D. Leland pleaded not guilty on June 23 to manufacturing, distribution, possession, and money laundering charges in U.S. District Court in Missoula. On June 30, Richard G. Flor, Justin L. Flor and Sherry L. Flor were each charged with 11 felonies, including possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking offense in U.S. District Court in Billings. On July 6, Jonathan Janetski, Michael Kassner, Tyler Roe and Evan Corum were charged with three counts each in Missoula. An eleventh person is yet to be arrested, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr. All of the defendants face a mandatory minimum of five years, and up to 40 years in prison if convicted. The weapons charges against the Flors could lead to life imprisonment. Operators of the Montana Caregivers Association and MCM Caregivers, which were among the targets of the raids, have filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming their constitutional rights were violated.

UPDATE: On Sept. 7, 2011, Schultz pleaded guilty on Sept. 7 to a charge of distributing more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. He agreed to forfeit at least $600,000 in cash and a Mercedes car, according to court documents. Leland pleaded guilty on Sept. 13. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced in December. Burns has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 15 on whether he can introduce evidence of Montana’s medical marijuana law and entrapment during his trial. Four other men have pleaded guilty in federal court in Missoula in separate cases related to the March dispensary raids.

Separate from the March raids, Shawn Slattery and Andrew Umhey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney. Prosecutors alleged that from October 2010 to February 2011, Slattery and Umhey operated the Four-Twenty Ranch LLC, where marijuana was produced and stored. In February, law enforcement officers seized 272 marijuana plants and 32.5 pounds of marijuana from the business. Both face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced on December 22.

(Source: Medical Marijuana Business Report)

  • January 6, 2011 – Federal authorities in Nevada charge 15 people with selling marijuana through several Las Vegas storefronts, saying they violated medical marijuana laws while simply selling the drug for profit. Authorities said those charged included: John Birmele, Kelly Birmele, Laura Rhoades-Yokoi, John Allen Youngblood, Timothy Hough, Michael Ellsworth, Pierre “Dr. Reefer” Werner, Reynalda Barnett, Clyde Barnett, Ron Teston, Kristen Krusyna, Michael McAuliffe, Katree Darriel Saunders, Chad Uhl, Caroline Dellaville. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney said all defendants had been arrested except for Kelly Birmele, Saunders and Uhl. Authorities named five businesses in the complaints: The Happiness Consultant, the Nevada Compassionate Center, Dr. Reefer, LV Fingerprinting and Organic Releaf.
  • September 29, 2010 – DEA and San Diego Sheriffs conduct SWAT-style raids at the home of Donald Lee Hunt Jr. and Donald Lee Hunt Sr., charging them federally with conspiracy to grow over 100 marijuana plants. Hunt Jr. had articles of incorporation and patient records for a medical marijuana cultivating collective, which did not dispense. After 23 plants for his own use and one ounce of dried marijuana were found at his residence, Hunt Sr. was also charged. The elder Hunt developed painful plantar fasciitis in his heel while working as a bellman for the Hyatt Regency for 27 years; he also suffers from glaucoma. Facing prison sentences of 5 years or more, the Hunts pled guilty to lesser charges and now face 12-18 months (Sr.) and 21-27 months (Jr.) in federal prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2011 at 9:30am in front of Judge Larry Burns.
  • July 9, 2010 – Federal agents arrested 12 people in San Diego county who they said were connected to a large-scale pot dealer. That suspect, Joshua Hester, was arrested in West Hollywood. In court papers, agents said Hester, 29, distributed 3,000 pounds of marijuana he purchased from a major Los Angeles dealer in 2007 and 2008 and was the silent owner of the Downtown Kush Lounge in downtown San Diego and the Green Kross Collective in Mission Beach, co-owned by Joseph Nunes (see below). The other 11 people arrested in the case had varying involvement with Hester. Some are accused of being runners for him, one was a real estate agent accused of helping him buy property fraudulently, and others worked in the collectives. Source.
  • April 27, 2010 – Five gardens allegedly connected to the B&C Natural Things collective in Ridgecrest were raided by NCIS, CHP, Kern county sheriffs, Inyo and Cal City SWAT teams. Taken into custody were Erik Christopher Stacy (27), Robert Davis Dodson, Jr, Charles Lee Kisor, Charles Edward Klaus, and Geoffrey Edward Bliss. All are reportedly charged with cultivation of more than 1000 plants, the aggregate of the gardens. Each plant was labeled with a patient’s name; the collective had 450 patients.
  • Upper Lake, August 24, 2009 - Scott Feil and his wife Diane, along with Steven Swanson and Thomas Carter were raided and arrested by the DEA in a case stemming from Feil’s former involvement with the UMCC medical cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles. Feil has been fighting a federal forfeiture case for several years and is facing a 5-10 year sentence. On September 1, 2010 Carter, 59, was arrested by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and taken into custody. UPDATE 6/3/11: Carter pleaded guilty on May 9; sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 6 in the Federal District Court in San Francisco. Swanson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute plus tax evasion on June 1. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 3. Another defendant, Mark Garcia of San Diego, has been added to the case.Read more.
  • Los Angeles, August 7, 2008. Charles Lynch was convicted on five counts of distributing marijuana and faced a minimum sentence of five years. Lynch operated Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay in accord with local regulations and approval by city council. Lynch was convicted of selling to minors under 21, but all were either over 18, the legal age for medical marijuana in California, or else accompanied by parents. On March 23, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu postponed sentencing and asked prosecutors from the Justice Department for a written position on medical marijuana prosecutions in light of recent comments from AG Holder. On April 17, 2009, the US DOJ responded in a letter claiming the prosecution was consistent with DOJ policy. On June 11, 2009 Lynch was sentenced to one year plus one day in federal prison and four years’ probation. He is home pending an appeal in the case. More on Charles Lynch trial.
  • Orange County, Nov 1, 2007. DEA arrests Steele Smith, director of C-3 medical cannabis caregiver service. Indicted along with Theresa Smith, Alexander Valentine, and Dennis Lalonde on charges of cultivating 1,289 plants at various addresses. All but Theresa, who served five months, were in federal prison for nearly a year, including Valentine, a 21 year-old-patient with Elephant-man’s syndrome. All defendants face 10-year sentences. For the first time, a medical marijuana defense of sorts may be raised this federal case: in April 2010, Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled that if any defendant chooses to testify, they can testify as to the context of why they did what they did, even if it involves medical marijuana issues under state law; however the jury will still be instructed that any testimony involving medical marijuana will not be a defense. Trial has been continued several times and is currently scheduled for October 4, 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Bldg., Santa Ana Federal Courthouse. Read more.
  • Alameda County, Oct 30, 2007. DEA raids Compassionate Collective of Alameda County, arresting Abraham & Winslow Norton, on 23-count indictment. CCAC was one of three licensed clubs in Alameda County and operated as a legal non-profit coop. Government charges CCAC made $21.5 million in revenues in 2006; does not mention millions in payroll and sales taxes paid. Nortons charged with conpiracy to distribute over 100 kilos and numerous money-laundering offenses. UPDATE Feb. 27, 2009 – AsA.G. Eric Holder announced his office would not be prosecuting medical marijuana providers, the Norton brothers were being arraigned along with two new defendants — their father and the manager of the dispensary, Brian Everett. All are facing a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 – 20 years. Their trial is scheduled for September 2011.
  • Riverside County, July 17, 2007: Ronald Naulls arrested for operating Healing Nations Collective in Corona. The city had filed suit to have the store closed. Naulls’ wife also arrested on state charges and their children put in protective custody on grounds that marijuana in their home posed a danger to them. On August 30, 2010 Naulls was sentenced to six month’s home confinement and almost $15,000 restitution for tax evasion.
  • Kern County, July 16, 2007. DEA raids Nature’s Medicinal cannabis dispensary near Bakersfield, arresting two owners, David Chavez, Sr., 48 and David Chavez, Jr, 28, plus six employees: John Wyatt, 29, John Shanks, 59, Israel Cavazos, 34,Jonathan Chapman, 28, Timothy Doolittle, 39, and Jennifer Brown, 34. Records indicated the facility made over $9.6 million in sales over a 9-month period. The facility had been operating in compliance with local regulations and was paying taxes. Agents seized $50,000 in cash from the premises.
  • On 2/17/2009 Doolittle was sentenced to 30 months as a “minor player.” He once faced 20 years. On May 10, 2011, Cavazos, who also faced 20 years, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years after pleading guilty on January 25. Wyatt and Chapman have also pleaded guilty, according to a a news release from the Office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Eastern District of California. Jennifer Brown was sentenced to a year in prison and John Shanks received a 1 year 8 month sentence. Wyatt was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and 3 years probation on May 31, and Chapman was sentenced to 37 months. Chavez and his father are scheduled to go to trial on September 13, 2011.
  • Hayward, Dec 12, 2006 – DEA & IRS raid Local Patients’ Group, arrest owner Shon Squier, 34 and manager Valerie Herschel, 23, seize $2 million in assets. LPG had already agreed to shut its doors at the end of the month after having violated the city’s limit on quantity of product on premises. Squier and Herschel charged with distribution, maintaining drug premises, and money laundering. In August 2010, Squier received a sentence of 30 months in prison.
  • Sacramento – July 7, 2005. Louis Wayne Fowler, director of Alternative Specialities dispensary, charged by feds following raid by Sacramento County Sheriff that uncovered two indoor gardens with an alleged 800 plants. Sheriffs say Fowler had a criminal record for embezzlement and failed to file for a business license. Charged for manufacture of marijuana and illegal possession of weapons. Jumped bail – at large Sep. 2008.
  • San Francisco – June 22, 2005. Feds raid 3 dispensaries and indict 21, mostly Asian-Americans, in what is described as a major organized crime operation. Three defendants, Enrique Chan, Richard Wong, and Thy Quang Nguyen, charged with sales of ecstasy; Wong and Phat Van Vuong charged with money laundering. Others include Phung Van Nguyen, director of first Asian-American medical cannabis dispensary; plus Bartholomew Alexis, Sergio Alvarez, Asa Barnla, Jay Chen, Minho Cho, Faisal Gowani, Chi Duc Hac, Darrick Hom, David Lee, Genaro Lopez, Brian Ly, Roselia Mendoza, Edward Park, Iris Tam, Edwin Toy, Vince Ming Wan. More details. UPDATE: Van Nguyen was sentenced to two years in federal prison in September 2010 and surrendered himself in San Francisco on January 5, 2011.

In Prison

  • El Dorado Co: Dr Mollie Fry & Dale Schafer. Operated medical marijuana clinic in Cool, California with 6000 patients; DEA raided Sep. 28, 2001; seized patient records. Indicted Jun 22, 2005 for marijuana found on premises. Convicted and sentenced to 5 years mandatory minimum for growing 100+ plants over three years (March 2008). UPDATE: A federal appeals court upheld Fry and Schafer’s sentences in November 2010. They surrendered and were sent to to prison on May 2, 2011. Read more andsee their website
  • Write:
  • MARION P FRY, 15840-097
  • CP Dublin Camp
  • 5675 8th Street – Camp Parks
  • Dublin, California 94568
  • Nevada County, Sept 11, 2007. Michael Lombardo, 49, arrested by DEA for growing medical marijuana for five patients at his home in Smartville. Lombardo, who has no prior record, charged with growing over 100 plants, but claims fewer were on his property. The government has also moved to forfeit Lombardo’s home. (It was one of three marijuana busts referred to the DEA by the Nevada County Sheriff.)
  • Judge Lawrence Karlton sentenced Lombardo to one year and a day in federal prison in March 2011 and allowed him to use medical marijuana while on supervised release. Lombardo surrendered and was imprisoned on May 10, 2011. Read more.
  • On June 7, 2007, Siskiyou County Sheriffs picked up Gary Hulsey on a federal warrant. Hulsey had a 17-member collective garden with 68 plants and night security. He acquired the approval of the deputy, who later busted him, and the deputy has now been promoted to U.S. Marshall. Hulsey pled guilty in federal court to conspiracy and was given an 18-month sentence in early 2011.
  • February 12, 2010 – Denver resident Chris Bartkowicz’s medical marijuana garden was raided by the DEA the day after he was interviewed on a local television station. Bartkowicz, who allegedly had 120-224 plants, was charged in federal court on Feb. 16.Read more. UPDATE: Bartkowicz pleaded guilty on 10/20/2010 and was sentenced to five years in prison followed by 8 years of supervised probation on January 28, 2011.Read more.
  • Los Angeles, May 27, 2008. DEA arrests Virgil Grant, owner of six LA-area dispensaries. Grant indicted on charges of drug conspiracy, money laundering, and operating a drug-related premises within 1,000 feet from a school. Also indicted: Grant’s wife Pshyra plus Stanley Jerome Cole, an employee accused of selling marijuana to an undercover agent. DEA began investigating Grant following an accident in which a truck driven by Jeremy White killed a driver and paralyzed a CHP officer. White had a quantity of edibles obtained from Grant’s facility in Compton and confessed to being DUI on marijuana. He was sentenced to six years in prison on March 22, 2010.Read more.
  • Chico. - Bryan Epis convicted by federal jury July 2002 cultivating 457 plants for Chico cannabis collective; arrested August 1997; sentenced to 10-year mandatory minimum Oct. 7, 2002. Released on bail August 9, 2004. In May 2009, in an unpublished opinion, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed Epis’s 10-year mandatory minimum without holding a hearing. The panel included Judge Jay Bybee, recently indicted as an international war criminal by Spain for having authored the DOJ’s notorious torture memos. See a MoveOn.org petition to impeach Judge Bybee. UPDATE: On February 22, 2010 Judge Damrell ordered Epis back to prison to serve the remainder of his 10-year mandatory minimum sentence. Download a petition to release Bryan.
  • Lake Co. – DEA raids Eddy Lepp‘s medicinal gardens Aug. 18th, 2004. Over 32,000 plants grown in public view along highway. Lepp says plants belonged to 2,000 – 3,000 patient shareholders. Lepp arrested and released on bail pending trial on marijuana charges with possible sentence of 12 years to life. 13 others arrested with Lepp but not charged. Feb 16, 2005: Lepp re-arrested along with Daniel Barnes after allegedly selling one pound of marijuana to DEA agents, who claim they did not mention medical purposes. Several hundred clones taken. Sept 2, 2008: Lepp found guilty by a federal jury on one count of conspiracy to distribute or to possess with the intent to distribute, and another count for manufacture or possession with the intent to distribute. With regard to both counts, jurors made the finding that the offenses involved at least a thousand marijuana plants, punishable by 10-year mandatory minimum. Court rejected Lepp’s claim of constitutional protection for religious and medical use. On May 18, 2009 Lepp was sentenced to 10 years and surrendered July 6, 2010 for incarceration.

Write Eddy at:
Charles Edward Lepp #90157-011
Federal Prison Camp
3705 West Farm Road
Lompoc, CA 93436

  • Modesto, Sep 27th 2006 – DEA raids California Healthcare Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary which had been operating and paying taxes for more than a year. Proprietors Ricardo Montes, 26, and Luke Scarmazzo, 26, found guilty of operating a continuing criminal enterprise.(May 08). On learning that the offense had a mandatory 20-year minimum sentence, two jurors filed declarations with U.S. District Court in Fresno recanting their verdict, and lawyers are seeking a retrial (Sept. 08).Scarmazzo sentenced to 21 years and 10 months and Montes to 20 years (Nov 08). Two other defendants, Bradley Wickliffe, 28, and Brad Heinmiller, 32, pled guilty and sentenced to 100 hours community service plus two years probation. Charges against Stephen J. DeMattos, 24, were dropped (Sep 07). Four other defendants, Jose Malagon, 33; Antonio Malagon, 28; Monica Valencia, 25, and Lucky Jamal Boissiere, 26 pled guilty April, 2008. Valencia was sentenced to 366 days on August 20. UPDATE 1/11: On January 5, 2011, a federal appeals court upheld the convictions of Scarmazzo and Montes, denying them a new trial.
  • LA, July 17, 2007. Larry Kristich and James Carberry indicted for having operated a chain of medical marijuana dispensaries known as “Compassionate Caregivers.” The chain had outlets in Oakland, West Hollywood, Ukiah, Bakersfield, San Francisco San Diego and Alameda County, before being forced to close following a bust of their West Hollywood “Yellow House” in 2005. The indictment charges that Compassionate Caregivers made over $95 million in sales. Also indicted: James Ealy on money laundering charges. Ealy pled guilty to misdemeanor possession and sentenced to 1,000 hours community service (April 28, 2008). Carberry sentenced to 5 years probation 4/30/08. Kristich sentenced on 2/3/09 to 5 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
  • Tehama Co. - David Dean Davidson, 52, and Cynthia Barcelo Blake, 53, indicted by federal grand jury on Jan 8, 2004 after trying to assert medical marijuana defense in state court. Arrested with 100s of small seedlings, 33 mature plants, and a few pounds of processed marijuana in Red Bluff and Oakland. Defendants say they were for personal use. The Tehama DA turned the case over to the feds while pretending to negotiate a deal with their attorneys. Blake sentenced to 18 months, September 2006. Davidson jumped bail and re-arrested, sentenced to 41 months.
  • Humboldt County, May 4, 2006 - Timothy Dellas was convicted of one count of “manufacture” of marijuana and of one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana involving more than 1,000 plants. The Humboldt County Sheriff turned the case over to federal law enforcement after executing a search warrant in June 2003 based on information from an informant. At a pretrial hearing Dellas testified that he was growing for dispensaries, and a dispensary operator appeared in court and attempted to testify for him. At the sentencing hearing in January 2007, Tim again testified that he was growing for dispensaries, and later reiterated this in his statement before the judge. Nonetheless, the court sentenced him to a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and five years supervised release.
  • Roseville – DEA raids Capitol Compassionate Care Center in Roseville and the Newcastle home of its proprietor, Richard Marino, on Sept 3, 2004, seizing 250 plants, 20 pounds of processed marijuana, and $105,000 cash. Government files for forfeiture of Marino’s home and for his rented storefront premises owned by landlord Richard Ryan. Marino indicted Jan 2006 on 19 counts for distribution, manufacture, and money laundering, sentenced to 51 months + 48 mo. supervised release. Jul 22, 2008.
  • Trinity County - Vernon Rylee, 61, was snatched out of state court in Trinity County on 10/18/05 and arrested on federal cultivation charges. Rylee and his wife had been arrested in 2003 for a sizable outdoors grow; they were re-arrested the next year after deliberately replanting another garden in public view. While awaiting trial, they were arrested once again, this time for a personal use garden of approximately ten plants. The Trinity County DA dismissed Janet, but turned Vernon, who is seriously ill, over to the feds. After being held 4 months in Sacramento Jail, where his condition worsened, he has been transfered to the Fort Worth Federal Medical Center. Sentenced to 71 months, August 2006. UPDATE 11/10 – Rylee has been released on home confinement after serving almost 5 years in federal prison.
  • Merced – Aug 10th, 2005. Patient activist Dustin “DC” Costa arrested on federal charges. The charges stemmed from a raid in February 2004, when some 900 plants were seized from Costa’s greenhouse. Costa had maintained that the plants were all for legal Prop. 215 patients. After 18 months of court continuances, state officials turned DC’s case over for federal prosecution. Convicted & Sentenced to 15 Years in prisonunder federal mandatory minimums Jan 2007.
  • Oakland, March 16, 2006. DEA raids cannabis candy manufacturer, “Beyond Bomb,” at three different East Bay sites, seizing over 5,000 plants, $150K cash, and the company’s stash of cannabis candies & soda pop. Arrested are alleged ringleaderKenneth “Kena” Affolter, 39, and 11 other employees. DEA says products were packaged in eye-catching candy wrappers that might pose danger to kids. Supporters say that products were distributed for use by medical marijuana patients. Affolter sentenced to 70 months; co-defendants Amy Teresa Arata and Jesse Monkosentenced to 18 months; Jaime Alvarez-Lopez and Elizabeth Ramirez sentenced to 1 year Sept. 26-06.
  • LA, July 17, 2007. John Moreaux of Valencia, a former associate of Compassionate Caregivers, was indicted for operating a second cannabis club in West Hollywood. Moreaux had a prior marijuana conviction and was also charged with illegal possession of a shotgun. Sentenced to 18 mo. + 3 yrs supervised release, April 29, 2008.
  • San Diego, July 6th 2006 – DEA and San Diego county narcotics agents shut down the city’s dispensaries; half of the city’s 19 dispensaries raided, others pressured to close.Six arrested on federal charges: John Sullivan, owner of the Purple Bud Room, who had other run-ins with the law; plus five defendants charged with cultivation in association with Co-Op San Diego: Wayne Hudson, Chris Larkin, Ross McManus, Scott Wright, and Michael Ragin. John Sullivan sentenced to 5 years (+ 5 yrs. sup. release), Aug. 31, 2007. Wayne Hudson sentenced to 1 year (+ 4 yrs sup. release); Larkin, McManus, Wright and Ragin sentenced to 5 yrs. probation (Feb 26, 2007).
  • July 13, 2007 - Dr. Armond Tollette of Los Angeles indicted for allegedly writing faulty recommendations, offering referral kickbacks to patients, and sharing marijuana with them. Arrested in connection with Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers investigation in SLO County. Tollete, of Culver City, California, had previously pled guilty on September 19, 2007 to conspiring with four owners and operators of ultrasound testing companies to commit health care fraud. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution to Medicare amounting to $909,000.

Sentenced or Case Terminated

  • September 11, 2009 - James Stacy and Joseph Nunes faced federal charges after 30 people were arrested during a DEA-assisted raid of medical-marijuana collectives in the San Diego area. Stacy, 45, operated Movement in Action in Vista when an undercover San Diego County sheriff’s detective posed as a patient and went to the cooperative in June. The warrant said Stacy was not following state law because he did not fit the definition of a caregiver who can provide medical marijuana to patients. Nunes operated the Green Kross Collective in San Diego, where police also made undercover purchases. Court records claim Nunes seemed to be profiting from the collective, which by state guidelines must be nonprofit. Nunes pleaded guilty in May 2010 and was sentenced to 1 year in prison and 3 years probation. Stacy’s medical marijuana defense was denied in July 2010, causing a storm of protest by advocates. UPDATE 11/10 – Just before trial in October, Stacy signed a 6-month sentence agreement. Judge Moskowitz accepted the agreement and set a sentencing date for January 7, 2011. In front of a courtroom filled to the brim with supporters wearing green solidarity ribbons, James Stacy was instead sentenced to 2 years probation.
  • Santa Barbara, August 26, 2008. A federal grand jury indicted John Seidenberg, 41, of Santa Ynez for growing two medical marijuana gardens for the Hortipharm collective. Seidenberg, who was originally arrested on state charges, had been preparing a Prop. 215 defense in state court, but he was turned over for federal prosecution by a Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputy. Read more. UPDATE: In July 2010, Seidenberg was sentenced to 4 years of probation plus 18 months of GPS monitoring. His co-defendants all got probation in state cases.
  • San Francisco - Stephanie Landa, Kevin Gage, Thomas Kikuchi arrested July 15th 2002 for 3000 square ft. medical marijuana garden in San Francisco. SF police had told the defendants beforehand that medical cultivation was OK, but then arrested them and turned their case over to the feds. Pled guilty to maintaining a place for manufacture. Landa and Gage sentenced Aug 2003 to 41 months; Kikuchi was sentenced to 37 months and released 06/19/2009. On September 29, 2008, Landa was put into solitary confinement and her sentence extended for 6 months for testing positive for THC, even though she has a Marinol prescription. She was released October 15, 2009 after serving nearly 3 years.
  • Chico, Oct 3, 2007. Federal prosecutors take over cultivation case of Robert Gordon Rasmussen, 23, accused of growing 210 plants at home. Rasmussen says they were part of a lawful 8-person patient collective. UPDATE 6/11: Rasmussen was sentenced to time served by Judge Mendez in Sacramento.
  • SF Bay Area - Ken Hayes and Rick Watts indicted along with Ed Rosenthal following
  • DEA raid on S.F. Sixth Street Harm Reduction Center Feb. 12, 2002. Charges against Watts dismissed 2007. On September 9, 2009 Hayes was given credit for time served and sentenced to three years supervised release with 6 months’ home detention by US District Court Judge Charles Breyer. Ken’s many friends and supporters look forward to his return to the community . Defense attorney Bill Panzer commended Judge Breyer’s ruling as “fair and just.”
  • Plumas County, Sep 5, 2006 – Caregiver Jeff Sanderson and wife Alice Wiegandcharged federally pursuant to August 14, 2006 raid by a local-federal task force that allegedly found 260+ plants. Child protective services also took custody of Sandersons’ 10-month old son. Sanderson sentenced to two years, Wiegand to six months April 2008. Sanderson was released on 6/25/2009.
  • Oakland – Five arrested by DEA following a CHP raid on a warehouse where 4,000 plants were found (Jun 30, 04). Defendants say the plants were for a licensed dispensary. Police gave conflicting accounts of the incident; the CHP says it called on the DEA after Oakland police declined to help. Two defendants pled and received misdemeanor probation: Jacek Mroz, 27, of San Leandro, and Jesse Nieblas, 31, of Alameda. Also arrested were Mario Pacetti, 33, of Alameda, Heleno Araujo, 32, of Concord, andCeleste Angello, 28, of Santa Clara. Angello sentenced to 2 years probation 10/6/4; Araujo pled guilty to misdemeanor for maintaining a place for manufacture of marijuana. Pacetti pled guilty 2/16/05. Two more indicted Feb 11, 2005: Thomas Grossi,60, owner of the property, and Roy Lewis, 52, an alleged grower. Lewis convicted and sentenced to probation due to ill health (April 2007). Pacetti sentenced to 1 year and 1 day (May 9, 2007). Grossi sentenced to 30 months, May 2007. Other defendants given probation. (2/16/09) Grossi was sent back to prison after a positive drug test due to eating a poppy seed cake and was later released.
  • Oakland, Sept. 3, 2008 - Michael Martin was sentenced Michael Martin was sentenced to 5 years’ probation with 2 years community service/home detention after a Sept. 27, 2007 DEA raid of Tainted, Inc., manufacturer of cannabis candies, seizing hundreds of products and 460 plants. DEA claimed Tainted supplied candies to cannabis clubs in the Bay Area, Seattle, Vancouver and Amsterdam. Defendants pled guilty. Martin’s assistantJessica Sanders was sentenced to 3 years’ probation with 6 months home detention.Michael Anderson, 42 of Oakland, and Diallo McLinn, 35 of Oakland were sentenced to 2 years misdemeanor probation. See: www.freetainted.com
  • San Francisco, Oct 4th, 2006 – DEA raids New Remedies Cooperative, a spinoff of the former Compassionate Caregivers dispensary group, which had been closed by federal investigators following a raid on their LA branch. Fifteen persons arrested, including director Sparky Rose, 36; plus James Daley, 56, Sean Anderson, 22; Johnny Seto, 32; Mark Miller, 53; Tracy Smith, 32; Kevin Ellis, 28; Jason Matthewson, 29; Alfaro Munoz-Bebullida, 33; Steven Navarro, 35; Mistalee Chiame Wang, 25; Jaime Perreira, 26; Ben Blair, 31; Irene Matsuoka, 27; and Amber Froines, 26. Sparky Rose sentenced to 37 months on 14 MJ-related counts, Mar 24, 2008. Charges against other defendants dismissed. Rose was released to a Los Angeles area halfway house in August 2009.
  • El Dorado County – June 30, 2006. DEA & sheriffs arrest patient grower David Hardeand wife Toby Landis on federal charges of sales of (medical) marijuana. Harde had been arrested Sept 1, 2005, by local sheriffs in connection with a five-patient collective. Facing difficult prosecution, county turned case over to feds. Harde sentenced to 30 months, December 2006. Charges against Landis dropped.
  • Sonoma Co. - Keith Alden - arrested May 9, 2001 while growing for himself and other patients; convicted by a jury of cultivating more than 100 plants on Feb 11, 2002; sentenced to 5 yrs probation; re-arrested July 31, 2002 for cultivating while on probation. Convicted for growing 920 plants Dec 19, 2002. Sentenced to 44 months, July 1, 2006. Released 02-07-2008
  • Bakerfield, Jul 10, 2007 – Feds indict Bill Connelly, proprietor of Seven Seas medical marijuana dispensary, pursuant to a wider investigation involving a drug dealing ring. Connelly pleads guilty and sentenced to six months in prison (Apr 28, 2008).
  • Modesto – July 18th, 2005. DEA arrests Thunder Rector and two others on charges stemming from a raid on his property by Stanislaus Co sheriffs, who reported discovering 49 plants and 235 pounds of marijuana there. Rector and his wife Rayleen Edson had been providing medical marijuana for partients at a San Francisco dispensary. Thunder sentenced to 24 months plus 60 months supervised release, Oct. 2007.
  • SF/Oakland – Marijuana author/advocate Ed Rosenthal re-indicted Oct 12th, 2006, after conviction had been overturned by appeals court. Originallly convicted Jan 31, 2003 for cultivating and maintaining a place in Oakland and conspiring to cultivate over 100 plants for the Harm Reduction Center in San Francisco. Jurors renounced their verdict after the first trial upon finding out that important evidence that Rosenthal had been deputized by the city of Oakland had been withheld. Rosenthal sentenced to 1 day time served and 3 years probation and $1300 fine Jun 4, 2003. Money laundering charges (for four checks totaling $1855) added on re-indictment, but dismissed by judge for vindictive prosecution. Judge announced before second trial that he would not change his original sentence. Rosenthal re-convicted in May, 2007 on three of five counts; acquitted on one count and jury hung on remaining count. Seven witnesses refused to testify for the state despite threat of contempt of court. Full ccount of Rosenthal trial.
  • Kern Co – July 20, 2005. Joe Fortt, 42, director of American Kenpo Kungfu School of Public Health, arrested for cultivating over 2,000 plants at three different locations. Charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess more than 1,000 plants (10-year mandatory minimum). Sentenced to 21 months, released in April 2007 and deported to Canada. Also charged: Dau Venh Lieng.
  • Bakersfield – Sep 8th, 2005. DEA arrests James Holland and two associates in raid on the Free and Easy cannabis dispensary. Kern County sheriffs summoned the DEA after being called to investigate a robbery at the facility. Police found plants growing at Holland’s home plus 20 lbs of marijuana, and illegally possessed firearms. Holland, who had prior drug convictions, sentenced to 9 years in prison Feb 2007.
  • Sonoma Co. - Aiko Compassion Center (Santa Rosa) raided by DEA May 29, 2002. Ed Bierling and Dan Nelson arrestedseparately each with plant #s beneath Sonoma Co. guidelines. Bierling not charged; Nelson given probation May 2006.
  • San Bernardino Co. - Anna & Gary Barret arrested May 22, 2003 on federal grand jury indictment for marijuana cultivation after charges dismissed in state court. Gary & Anna sentenced to 2 years probation Jan 30, 2006.
  • Sonoma Co. - Robert Schmidt, proprietor of Genesis 1:29 club in Petaluma, arrested Sept 13, 2002. Agents uproot 3,454 plants at the club’s garden in Sebastopol. Pled guilty Jul 2003; sentenced to 41 months, July 2005.
  • Orange Co. - Michael Teague - arrested May 2002 growing 102 small seedlings in garage in Tustin. Charges dismissed under Prop. 215; re-arrested by BATF on federal charges of being “unlawful user” in possession of a (legal) handgun. Gun charges dropped; pled guilty to cultivation with right to appeal. Sentenced to 18 months Aug. 2003.
  • Sacramento - Robert and Shawna Whiteaker - patient couple involved in Prop. 215 cultivation case that was turned over to the US attorney by the Sacramento DA’s office after they charged that search warrants were falsified by a sheriff’s deputy. Attorneys allege US prosecutors improperly withheld information to force the case into federal court. Shawna got misdemeanor probation; Robert sentenced to 18 months, Nov 2004.
  • Humboldt Co. - Chris Giauque - arrested in Humboldt County Aug 01, 2001 growing 204 plants for the Salmon Creek patients’ collective; case turned over to the feds, pled guilty Dec 6; sentenced to 15 months for possession. Released from prison May 2003. Meanwhile, in a separate case, Giauque won a landmark federal lawsuit for return of one ounce of pot seized by the DEA at the request of the Humboldt sheriff after the latter was ordered to return it to Giauque under Prop. 215. Giauque missing and presumed dead since Aug 2003; police suspect foul play.
  • Oakland. - Jimmy Halloran arrested in Feb 12th, 2002 DEA raid for sizeable indoor medical marijuana grow ( 3,500 plants). Halloran, 60 years old, facing a 10 year sentence and ill with Hepatitis C, agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the government by testifying against Rosenthal. Sentenced May 22, 2003 to 6 months house arrest and $10,000 fine.
  • Placer Co. - Bill & Peggy Riddick (aged 68, 69) sentenced 4/5/02 to 30 months beginning 5/13; home forfeited; arrested by Placer Co. sheriffs in 1997 growing 400-680 plants for a San Francisco cannabis club. Released from prison Jan 2004.
  • El Dorado Co. - Roy Lee Sharpnack, 55 patient sentenced to 57 months on Mar 4, 2002 for growing 957 plants for an El Dorado patients’ dispensary. Other defendants in the case: Jacob Sink released from prison in 2002; Traci Coggins, released from prison Nov. 02: Paul Maggi, released after agreeing to inform.
  • Sonoma Co - Mark Whitney arrested March 2002 for 660 plant caregiver garden. Pled guilty Jul 2003, sentenced to 1 year prison, 3 years supervised release; out pending appeal.
  • West Hollywood - Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center - Raided and closed by DEA Oct. 25th on orders of US Justice Dept against wishes of local authorities. Served 960 seriously ill patients In Hollywood. Forfeiture charges filed against the LACRC’s building Jun 2002. LACRC director Scott Imler, Jeff Yablan and Jeff Farringtonpled guilty to avoid a potential 30-year sentence. Sentenced to 1 year’s probation plus community service in November 2003 by Judge Howard Matz, who praised the defendants and excoriated the government for bringing the case in the first place.
  • Ventura Co. - Lynn and Judy Osburn raided Sept 28, 2001 for cultivating for the LACRC. Forfeiture filed against Osburns’ property, including home they built for themselves, in July 02. Raided again and arrested for personal use garden of 35 plants in Aug 02; charged with cultivation. Pled guilty Sep 03. Lynn sentenced to 1 year. Ninth Circuit denied appeal March 2006.
  • Mendocino Co. - David Arnett and David Kephart charged federally Jun 02 with growing 27 plants on BLM land after case was dismissed in state court. Arnett sentenced to 3 years probation and $1,000 fine Jun 20, 03.
  • Sonoma Co – Patient Mike Foley arrested with a home garden by FBI in the course of an unrelated investigation of his housemate, Jun 2002. Pled guilty to cultivation of 95 plants. Foley had previously been acquitted by a Sonoma jury for cultivating marijuana with Ken Hayes for the CHAMP patients’ group in San Francisco. Sentenced to 6 months home detention plus 3 years probation Mar 31, 2004.
  • Los Angeles – Childhood cancer survivor Todd McCormick served nearly four years of a five-year sentence in federal prison for a post-215 grow. McCormick and fellow defendant Peter McWilliams pled guilty in November 1999 after the trial judge denied them the right to use a medical marijuana defense against federal cultivation and trafficking conspiracy charges. McWilliams, who had AIDS and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, died on June 14, 2000. McCormick was freed on December 10, 2003. Co-defendant Renee Boje fought extradition from Canada to stand trial in the case. In September 2006, she received one year’s probation without supervision if she remained in Canada. A video in Peter’s memory will be released on April 24, 2011.
  • San Francisco – Vietnam veteran B.E. Smith was convicted on May 21, 1999 and sentenced to 27 months in Federal prison for growing marijuana for medical patients on federal land in Trinity county. His trial was marked by a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. to ban all defenses relating to medical marijuana, caregiving, or Proposition 215.

Forfeiture Cases

  • Calaveras County, Jan. 2005. Federal government files forfeiture suit against Wesley Crosiar, 52, after local sheriff finds 134 marijuana plants on his property. Government seeks to forfeit Crosiar’s home and five acres of land inherited from father. Crosiar, who was living on the property with his wife and sons, says he was growing for half a dozen friends and family members and had checked with local authorities to make sure he was within legal guidelines. Case settled for $25,000.
  • El Dorado County, Feb. 2007 – Disabled veteran Don Kearney‘s 20-acre ranch and home was seized by federal authorities after county officials discovered a collective medical garden. Update March 2009: Govt refused to drop the case, because of too many plants. Trial is set for August 2009.
  • Chico, Jun 28th 2007- Feds file for forfeiture of house of James Robertson. Robertson had been growing ~200 indoor plants for four patient collective. State charges dismissed.
  • Butte Co , Summer 2007 – Feds forfeit home of Patricia Hatton, charged with indoor collective grow.
  • Mt Shasta, Nov 2006 – Siskiyou sheriffs raid home of Ron Hennig, find 44-plant indoor garden for four patients. Henning indicted by state grand jury, while feds file for forfeiture of his 40-acre property that he has owned for 30 years.
  • Amador Co - Bill Lockyer & Bill Olson, fighting federal forfeiture of their home for growing 300 plants; Lockyer a patient; seizure order dated Dec 2001.

Died Pending Prosecution

  • Madera, July 27, 2007. Donato Canceleno, a 63-year-olddisabled patient, turned over to federal government for prosecution by Madera prosecutor. Donato was facing trial in state court after being granted a Prop. 215 defense following his arrest on March 7, 2005 for cultivating 216 small indoor plants for three patients. Madera prosecutor Michael Keitz announced in court that he was dropping state charges and turning Canceleno over to federal agents, who dragged him off to jail. Died of heart attack, Oct. 10, 2008.
  • San Diego - Steve McWilliams, co-partner of Shelter from the Storm medical marijuana collective, arrested by DEA Oct. 11, 2002 for cultivating a small sideyard garden for a half dozen patients. Pled guilty to cultivation of 25 plants, with right to appeal. Sentenced to 6 months Apr 28th, 2003; released on bail pending appeal but denied access to marijuana. Suffering intense pain and depression, McWilliams committed suicide July 11, 2005.
  • Los Angeles - Peter McWilliams, co-defendant w/ Todd McCormick, had AIDS and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, found dead on June 14, 2000. Had pled guilty, been denied use of marijuana, and was awaiting sentencing.

Raided by DEA, no charges filed (partial list – scores of DEA raids have been reported as of 2008):

  • Los Angeles and Alameda, October 8, 2008 – DEA raids the long-standing We Are Hemp in Alameda county plus two Long Beach coops (Long Beach Holistic; Holistic Health and Aromatherapy).
  • Los Angeles, August 1, 2008. On the same day an appellate court in San Diego ruled that federal law does not preempt the state’s law allowing the use of medical marijuana, DEA agents raided the Organica Collective in Culver City. Agents removed computers, medicine and money, and using a steel cylinder battering ram to get into the upstairs bedrooms, according to an MS patient who was present at the time of the raid. The LA Times website briefly published a picture of a man handing a box marked “DEA” while wearing a Blackwater T-shirt at the raid. The paper removed the photo after the DEA asked them to obscure the man’s face because they said he is an undercover agent.
  • Los Angeles, Jan. 17, 2007. DEA agents raid eleven LA-area cannabis dispensaries, including 5 in West Hollywood, which were operating in accordance with a local dispensary ordinance. Products and cash seized, no arrests. Local governments surprised by the raid, which was denounced by West Hollywood officials.
  • Sky Valley (Riverside Co.) March 15, 2006. DEA bangs down door of medical marijuana patient Garry Silva, 53, flooring him, dislocating his shoulder and breaking a bone in the process. Silva found growing 70 small indoor plants, half of them unrooted, for 9 legal patients affiliated with a Palm Desert collective. No charges filed.
  • San Francisco, Dec. 20, 2005 – DEA raids HopeNet Cooperative after first raiding home of HopeNet directors Steve and Catherine Smith. No arrests. Agents seize cash, medicine, a few hundred small indoor plants, mostly cuttings and clones.
  • San Diego, Dec 12, 2005 – Interagency task force raids 13 of 19 San Diego dispensaries. Task force led by DEA with state police. Raids conducted under state, not federal search warrant. No arrests, investigation ongoing.
  • Los Angeles – DEA raids home garden of sickle-cell patients’ advocate Sister Somayahon Oct. 8, 2003, destroying 12 plants. Somayah, who has been repeatedly harassed by the LA police department, was acquitted of cultivation in a jury trial in 2002. No charges filed.
  • Lebanon, Oregon – DEA raids garden of Travis Paulsen, seizing 48 mature and 56 immature plants, Oct. 2, 2003. No charges filed.
  • Santa Cruz - Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a collective of 250 seriously ill patients, raided by DEA Sept. 5, 2002; armed agents destroy 167 plants. Directors Valerie and Mike Corral handcuffed and arrested, then released. WAMM files suit for return of property. WAMM granted preliminary injunction against further DEA raids under Raich decision April 2004.
  • Butte Co. - Diane Monson - 6 plant personal use garden destroyed by DEA in defiance of pleas by local D.A. Aug 15, 2002. Monson files patient lawsuit with Angel Raich asking for a federal injunction to protect them against further DEA aids. Injunction granted by 9th Circuit, overturned under Supreme Court Raich decision.
  • Linn Co., OREGON - Leroy Stubblefield, a quadriplegic, and two other patients are robbed of a 12-plant caregiver garden, legally registered under state law, by DEA on Sept. 23, 2002. They plan to sue the federal government.
  • Sonoma Co. - Alan MacFarlane - 128 plant, 10 patient cooperative garden destroyed by DEA Aug 2002. Had been acquitted for personal medical use cultivation of 100 plants by jury in 2001.
  • Bremerton, WASH. - Monte Levine and Marc Derenzy raided by the DEA and threatened with arrest by U.S. attorney in August 2002 for openly growing medical marijuana (42 plants) for themselves and two other patients under Washington state law.
  • Steamboat Springs, CO - Don Nord, 57-year-old patient with serious chronic illness, raided Nov 2003 for 3-plant medical garden. Charges dismissed under Colorado medical marijuana law, but Nord’s medicine turned over to DEA. Nord is suing federal government for return of medicine.
  • Aurora, Co - Dana May raided by DEA April 2004 for personal use garden. Colorado D.A. declines to press charges. May plans to file suit against feds for $3,000 in cultivation equipment and lost medicine.

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