More Pending Cases
(also see Pending Cases from 2012-13)
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- May 29, 2013 – An Oregon medical marijuana grower whose farms were raided in October 2011 has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Senior U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner sentenced Brian Wayne Simmons, 40, of Medford on charges of conspiracy, manufacturing and distribution of marijuana. Simmons was convicted in a four-day trial in December 2012.Simmons owned and operated Brian’s Green Thumb Farm on East Gregory Road in Central Point. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local police raided Simmons’ farm in October 2011, seizing 456 large marijuana plants. Agents seized an additional 64 large marijuana plants at a second grow site on Dark Hollow Road, near Medford.A co-defendant, Michael Grantski, was accused of overseeing the Dark Hollow Road site, but was acquitted in December. Another co-defendant, Michael Peru, pleaded guilty and cooperated with federal investigators. He is awaiting sentencing. Source.
- May 28, 2013 – 53-year-old Michigan medical marijuana patient Jerry Duval, a kidney-pancreas transplant patient with coronary artery disease and a strict medication regimen, was sentenced earlier this year to 10 years in prison and will be surrendering to FMC Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts on June 11th. Duval was convicted at trial in April 2012 of manufacturing with intent to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and maintaining a drug premises. The Obama Justice Department is also trying to forfeit his home and farm land worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Join the #Peace4Patients CampaignMichigan businessman Dennis Forsberg, 59, is also headed to federal prison in North Carolina for three years after leasing some of the buildings owned by the family real estate company to licensed growers, or caregivers, under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. His son, Lance, has already started serving a three-year sentence in West Virginia. Read more. Cultivator Ryan Basore 36, was sentenced to 3-4 years in prison and self-surrendered to FCI Morgantown in West Virginia, with a release date of 11-21-2016.
- January 19, 2012 – A former University of Montana Grizzly quarterback pleaded not guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Jason Washington entered his plea in front of U.S. Magistrate Jeremiah Lynch. Washington is one of six defendants named in the indictment, which follows a widespread federal raid last November on numerous businesses, homes and warehouses linked to marijuana businesses in western Montana. Read more. UPDATE January 2013: Washington has been found guilty of “conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana” and “possession with intent to distribute marijuana,” but was acquitted of another felony possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-related crime. UPDATE 5/13 – Washington was sentenced to two years in federal prison, and has been taken into custody. After he serves his prison sentence, he will be on supervised release for four years. Source.
- January 3, 2013- Paul Schmidt, owner of the former medical marijuana dispensary Sleeping Giant Caregivers in Helena, MT was sentenced to one year in prison for growing marijuana and money laundering and ordered to forfeit $750,000 in alleged profits. Sleeping Giant was raided by federal agents on May 20, 2011. Schmidt faced a mandatory sentence of at least five years in prison, and possibly up to 40 years, as well as more than $2 million in fines. Federal prosecutors dropped the two distribution counts and three money laundering counts after Schmidt agreed to plead guilty to manufacturing marijuana and one count of money laundering. Schmidt served with the US Coast Guard, and one of his fellow officers wrote a letter to the judge on his behalf.
- 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. He was released from prison 01/31/2014. Read more.
- UPDATE 1/21 – Luke was denied release at the last minute by President Trump.
- He posts on his Facebook page (1/27/21) that, “I have been in this quarantine unit in a federal penitentiary at Yazoo City, Mississippi for 91 days. When I arrived here prison officials lied and told me I’d only be here the standard 14 days. This, despite me being ‘covid recovered’ in September 2020, with at least a temporary acquired natural immunity. I’m locked into my cell 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Out of 168 hour week, I’m allowed out of my cell for 3 hours to take a shower and use the phone; the other 165 I’m in a concrete box. I haven’t felt the warm sun or inhaled a breath of fresh air in over 3 months. I’m fed enough to be kept alive and confined in frigid temperatures. And these are just a few of the blatant constitutional and human rights violations that I endure daily without just cause.”
- UPDATE 1/17 – We got news through Cheri Sicard of www.MarijuanaLiferProject.org that Ricardo Montes is on Obama’s clemency list and will be released in May 2017. Unfortunately, and inexplicably, his co-defendant Luke Scarmazzo’s petition was denied last week. Luke has already served 10 years and isn’t scheduled for release until 2027.
- 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.A 2007 Fresno Bee story revealed the focus of the federally funded, Fresno-based Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and its chief Bill Ruzzamenti has shifted from methamphetamine to marijuana. In a ceremony on January 18, the White House drug czar John Walters honored the state, local and federal officers who took down Modesto’s California Healthcare Collective. Ruzzamenti nominated the Modesto police officers and others who received the “National Marijuana Initiative” awards.The Central Valley HIDTA’s goal had been “to reduce the manufacture, trafficking and distribution of methamphetamine, precursor chemicals and other dangerous drugs.” Over time, the Valley’s big meth labs decamped for Mexico – so agents have sought new targets.
- “We followed California law to the letter,” Luke Scarmazzo, former manager of the marijuana center, stated in a recent letter. “We paid our taxes. We went to work every day providing a benefit and service to the community. Yet in the end, we were made out to look like common criminals.” Source.
- Luke Scarmazzo 63131-097
USP Yazoo City
PO BOX 5000
Yazoo City, MS 39194Release date: 03/14/2027