Federal Medical Marijuana Cases – resolved

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UPDATE 3/20 – Aaron Sandusky, who was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for running three medical marijuana dispensaries in the Inland Empire, has been released. Aaron never stopped fighting, winning a court ruling last December that the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment defunded federal enforcement of state medical marijuana laws, and thus the execution of his sentence was unlawful. The ruling came just before his release date of 3/12/20; word is Sandusky was released just before the holidays last year. Read the story as it developed:

October 12, 2012 – Aaron Sandusky, whose G3 Holistic collective had storefronts in Upland, Colton and Moreno Valley, was found guilty on two felony counts of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute charges. The jury deadlocked on four other charges having to do with operating a location involved with drugs. Judge Anderson declared a mistrial on those counts. Sandusky was sentenced to 10 years in prison on January 7, 2013. He plans to appeal. Read more. Sandusky’s brother Keith and four other former employees of G3 Holistic have pleaded guilty in the case. They are awaiting sentencing. G3 medical marijuana co-defendents all facing prison time

G3 co-founder John Leslie Nuckolls II testified at Aaron’s trial, a condition of his plea bargain. Nuckolls testified he had been friends with Sandusky for about 11 years. In 2009 he approached Sandusky, who had real estate and broker experience, about opening a medical marijuana dispensary.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Robinson asked Nuckolls if, in June 2009, he was working as a confidential informant for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. “I was not,” said Nuckolls, who added that he talked with the agency, along with San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and the DEA, and worked with them, but never worked as an informant. Robinson then pointed out that Nuckolls had an agreement with the DA’s Office at that time and after helping them with cases had a felony charge dismissed. Read more.

UPDATE 3/14 – Oral Arguments for Aaron’s appeal were held Monday, March 3, 2014. On March 18, all appeals were denied.

UPDATE 12/19 – A Tenth US Circuit panel ruled that Sandusky may challenge his continued imprisonment based on the argument that Congress has defunded prison stays for such offenses. Read decision.

  • UPDATE: Lepp was released in December 2016 following eight years of imprisonment.
  • 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. UPDATE: March 2014: Lepp has been moved from Texas to Colorado. July 2012: Lepp has been moved to Texas. Contributions to his prison account can be made through Green Aid.Also see: Lepp: I Am Serving a 10-Year Mandatory Minimum for Marijuana in Colorado
  • 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. Virgil Grant was sentenced to six years in prison on March 22, 2010. Charges were dismissed against Pshyra Grant; Cole pleaded guilty and was given one year probation. Read more. He was released on 1/23/2015.

  • 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.UPDATE Both Dale and Mollie were released in 2015.
  • 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.

  • 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 sentence 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. UPDATE 7/12: US Judge Garland Burrell reduced Epis’s sentence from 120 months to 90 months (plus 10 years supervised release). The court ignored evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by US Attorney Samuel Wong, but ruled that Epis had received inadequate defense counsel instead. Bryan’s release date was moved up from 2016 to 2013. He was released 12/13/2013.
  • July 23, 2013 – An AIDS sufferer and former circus performer who supplied military veterans with medical marijuana was sentenced to five years of probation in federal court in Spokane, WA. Rick Rosio, 57, had faced 30 months to 37 months in prison on a felony charge of growing more than 50 marijuana plants. But after his lawyer pointed out that marijuana is now legal in Washington state — and a Catholic brother, a priest, and a veterans’ advocate who hosts a local radio show wrote letters of support — Rosio walked out with probation instead. His co-defendant, Shaun Schrader, also got 5 years probation. Read more.
  • 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. Klaus and Bliss pleaded guilty on 8/11/11 and were given 3 years probation each. On 2/20/12, Stacy was sentenced to 30 months in prison; Dodson to two years in prison; and Kisor to 20 months; all got four years probation on top of their prison sentences. Kisor was released on 8/24/2013 and Stacy on 11/15/2013.
  • 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. Another defendant, Mark Garcia of San Diego, has been added to the case. Read more. Scott Feil was sentenced to 5 years in prison; he and Diana were sentenced to 4 years probation plus a $2.69 million fine. Feil was released from prison on December 8, 2014.
  • 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 was released on 09-18-2009. On May 10, 2011, Cavazos, who also faced 20 years, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years after pleading guilty. Wyatt and Chapman also pleaded guilty. Wyatt was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and 3 years probation on May 31, and Chapman was sentenced to 37 months. Jennifer Brown was sentenced to a year in prison and John Shanks received a 1 year 8 month sentence.David Chavez Jr. was sentenced to 48 months in August 2012 and was sent to prison on June 28, 2013. David Chavez Sr. pled guilty on Dec 17, 2012. He agreed to a sentence of no less than 87 months, and turned himself in on September 3, 2013.ISRAEL CAVAZOS 63545-097
    Released: 07/18/2014JONATHAN M CHAPMAN 63546-097
    Released: 03/11/2014JOHN RICHARD SHANKS 63521-097
    Released: 10-22-2012John Wayne Wyatt 63522-097
    Released: 07-16-2013David Chavez Jr. 63519-097
    Released: 12/10/2015David Chavez Sr. 63518-097
    Released: 08/11/2017

  • 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 Crouzon 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 countless times. Read more. UPDATE: Steele Smith pled guilty and was sentenced to 8 months and 21 days time served on Feb 4, 2013. He is on supervised release for 5 years. There are numerous sealed documents in the case. A transcript of his sentencing will be made available on Jun 13th. Theresa Ann Smith had charges dismissed on July 26 2012, There are also sealed documents in her case. Lalonde also had charges dismissed on Aug 1, 2012. No sealed documents. Charges against Valentine were dismissed in March 2013. All cases were handled by US District Judge Cormac Carney.

  • 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. Dellas was released on 11-19-2015
  • 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 – As A.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 Michael Norton and the manager of the dispensary, Brian Everett.UPDATE 5/3/2013 – Winslow and Abraham Norton agreed to a sentence of six months in jail and six months on home detention. They also agreed to forfeit some $600,000 in revenues. Two other codefendants — the Nortons’ father Michael and Brian Everett — pleaded guilty to using a telephone for a drug crime. They will be placed on probation. In addition, according to the Nortons, $600,000 seized by the federal government taken from a dedicated sales tax account will be forfeited as part of the plea agreement.UPDATE 10/10/2013 – Sentencing took place for all but Winslow Norton, who is scheduled for Tuesday October 15 at 1:30 PM. Winslow, 32, has already started serving his time. In July, the federal government revoked his bail after a traffic stop in San Rafael revealed 2 pounds of marijuana in his car.”These sentences are a marked improvement over recent efforts by the Obama Administration to seek mandatory minimum sentences of five to ten years in prison, however they still illustrate the unfortunate reality of federal officials aggressively prosecuting medical marijuana cases,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access. “No dispensary operator should endure a federal conviction or spend time in prison when they are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana law.” Winslow Norton was released on 9/26/2015.
  • 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. He was released in September 2012.
  • 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. He was released in June 2012.

  • 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 prison under federal mandatory minimums Jan 2007.Dustin Robert Costa 62406-097
    Released 09-04-2018
  • 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. They have now been released from prison.
  • Completely disabled from a 1997 car accident, Joe Kidwell used marijuana to treat constant pain from his severe back injuries. While living in California, Kidwell got the doctor’s recommendation required under state medical marijuana laws and began cultivating a small garden. After a bust and a trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, a jury found Kidwell guilty of cultivating 14 marijuana plants. The verdict came in spite of the presentation of multiple written doctor’s recommendations and the fact that two doctors testified on Kidwell’s behalf. He was sentenced to a term of probation that allowed him to smoke marijuana in his house but specifically forbade him from engaging in any marijuana advocacy. Done wrong in a state where medical marijuana was supposed to be legal, Kidwell looked for greener pastures elsewhere. He ended up in Kentucky, where his cultivation activities resulted in a federal indictment against him in August 2002. In his ensuing trial, Kidwell claims he was not permitted to represent himself, and that 17 of his 18 witness were denied an opportunity to testify. Following his conviction and sentencing, he was imprisoned in various institutions until 2011. Source: Medical Marijuana of America
  • 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. UPDATE 5/12: Nunes was released from prison on 4/29/2011.
  • UPDATE: February 24, 2015 – Charles Lynch filed Appropriations Act, 2015 Section 538 Motion to end his prosecution for operating a medical marijuana dispensary in 2006. He is due in court on April 13, 2018 in Los Angeles.
    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. More on Charles Lynch trial. UPDATE 5/12 – A new film, Lynching Charlie Lynch, tells the story.
  •  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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 ringleader Kenneth “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 Monko sentenced to 18 months; Jaime Alvarez-Lopez and Elizabeth Ramirez sentenced to 1 year Sept. 26-06.
  • 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.
  • 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. He was released on 5/16/2012.
  • 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.
  • El Dorado County – June 30, 2006. DEA & sheriffs arrest patient grower David Harde and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. He was released 05-18-2010.
  • 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 Wiegand charged 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, and Celeste 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 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 assistant Jessica 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.
  • 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. He was released from prison 07-10-2009.
  • 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. He was released 04-02-2012.
  • 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. He was released on 6/15/2017.
  • 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 August 1, 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 has been missing and presumed dead since Aug 2003; police suspect foul play. A $400,000 reward is offered for information about his disappearance.
  • 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 Farrington pled 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. Read more.
  • 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. Read more

Other 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 was 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 Somayah on 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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