6 suspects in black market pot-sale bust facing prison

May 4, 2012

Chicago Tribune on May 3, 2012 released the following:

“Chris Conrad
Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore.

Federal prosecutors say the six men accused of funneling thousands of pounds of excess buds grown on medical marijuana farms to the black market could face a mandatory five years in prison if they are convicted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Fong said federal statutes allow for mandatory prison sentences for marijuana offenses if more than 100 plants are involved. However, prosecutors could forgo the mandatory sentences, depending on the suspects’ criminal history and whether they cooperate with the investigation. “The absolute maximum penalty would be 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine,” Fong said.

Fong said four named in the federal indictment released Tuesday have made their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Medford.

Brian Wayne Simmons, Clifford Ruhland, Caleb Joseph Kulp and Scott Grantski appeared in court on charges of manufacture, delivery and possession of marijuana, Fong said.

Michael Reed Peru and John Wayne Johnson could be arraigned in the near future, Fong said.

“They are not being held in jail at this time,” Fong said. The men have deep ties to the Rogue Valley and are not believed to be a flight risk prior to their trial, Fong said.

The men are believed to have grown at least 4,000 pounds of excess marijuana at medical gardens in Medford and Central Point last year, according to a federal affidavit.

The buds from these plants were in the process of drying when Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the farms on Dark Hollow, East Gregory and Table Rock roads in October, the affidavit says.

Fong said the scope of the investigation was responsible for the nearly seven-month lag time between the raids and the indictment.

DEA investigators culled through bank records and video surveillance linked to the group as they tried to piece the case together. “It takes time to look through all this evidence and try to understand what you’re seeing,” Fong said.

Investigators believe Peru was a major player in the crimes, which include moving pounds of Southern Oregon marijuana up Interstate 5 for sale in Washington.

Peru made local headlines about eight years ago when he tried to build a golf course on private and environmentally sensitive public land at the site of the Billings Ranch in north Ashland.

When reached by phone Wednesday, Peru declined to comment on the claims made by the DEA in the indictment.

“All I can say is that I didn’t do half of what they accused me of,” Peru said. “I’m going to wait and see what happens before I make a statement.”

Peru’s son, identified as Reed Peru in the indictment, was arrested by Washington police after allegedly selling 12 pounds of marijuana to a police informant in Bremerton, near Seattle.

Prosecutors believe Mike Peru was selling buds grown in Jackson County in Washington.

Bank account records noted in the indictment showed that Mike Peru, Simmons and Ruhland deposited upwards of $40,000 in cash at a time between October 2010 and October 2011. Prosecutors believe the proceeds are from black-market marijuana.

Attempts to reach the five other men named in the indictment were not successful Wednesday.

Peru did say that Ruhland was the boyfriend of Kaelin Glazier at the time the Ruch teen was killed in 1996.

“He told me once that he never really got over that,” Peru said.

Ruhland has a previous felony marijuana conviction, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

Fong said the plants pulled from the suspects’ farms were “impressive” in their size and the amount of high-quality buds they produced.

“Some of these plants produced more than 10 pounds of bud,” Fong said.

Oregon Medical Marijuana Program guidelines allow a registered grower to produce six mature plants 12 inches or taller per patient, for up to four patients.

There is no limit to the number of growers per site. But all the marijuana produced must belong to the patients, who can possess only 1.5 pounds of usable buds at one time.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Agents Raid Calif. Marijuana University

April 4, 2012

MyFoxAtlanta.com on April 2, 2012 released the following:

“TERRY COLLINS, Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Federal agents on Monday targeted a San Francisco Bay area medical marijuana training school started by a leading pot advocate who has been instrumental in pushing for ballot measures to legalize the drug.

The doors to Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland were blocked by U.S. marshals and yellow tape following the early morning raid by agents with the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Agents carted trash bags of unknown materials out of the school as protesters gathered to condemn the action. A museum connected to the school and a nearby medical marijuana dispensary operated by Oaksterdam founder Richard Lee also were raided.

Demonstrators outside the multistory building, some openly smoking marijuana, held signs demanding an end to federal crackdowns on marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law.

Ryan Hooper, 26, of Oakland, wearing an Oaksterdam hat and sweat shirt, said he had finished taking courses at the school in February.

“This is not in the best interest of the city,” Hooper said. “If they close the dispensaries, all of this stuff is going to go back underground.”

Oaksterdam University was founded by Lee, who spent more than $1 million as the main backer of a California ballot measure defeated in 2010 that would have legalized marijuana in the state for recreational use. Lee did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The school offers classes to would-be medical marijuana providers in fields ranging from horticulture to business to the legal ins-and-outs of running a dispensary. It does not distribute marijuana.

Arlette Lee, an IRS spokeswoman and no relation to Richard Lee, told reporters that agents were serving a federal search warrant but said she could not otherwise comment on the purpose of the raid.

“What we are doing here today is under seal,” Lee said.

Agents also raided Richard Lee’s home and briefly detained him during their search but did not arrest him, said Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam’s executive chancellor.

“Clearly, they’re trying to knock down one of the leaders in the cannabis reform movement,” Jones said.

No other arrests were reported, and it was unclear if the raid was prompted by a civil or criminal complaint. Jack Gillund, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, also declined comment.

The raid was the latest move by the federal government to crack down on California’s thriving medical marijuana industry. Federal prosecutors across the state joined late last year to shut down dozens of dispensaries by threatening to seize landlords’ property if they did not evict marijuana retailers.

The government’s action came as a surprise to medical marijuana advocates because the city of Oakland has been somewhat of a safe haven for pot clinics. The city has long allowed four medical marijuana dispensaries to legally operate under city ordinances and recently awarded permits that would allow four more to open.

“Oakland has one of the most highly regulated systems for distributing medical marijuana in the state,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California’s director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We think this is a campaign by the U.S. attorneys not just to limit but to kill access to medical marijuana in California.”

Others countered that pot advocates are mistaken if they believe the Obama administration wouldn’t take action.

“This is a warning signal to any city including Oakland that they should tread very carefully when sanctioning an illegal activity,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser to the president’s drug czar and an assistant professor at the University of Florida. “The brazenness of Oakland and other cities like this has actually made them a target.”

Some observers said the federal government’s decision to go after Oaksterdam shows it’s not going to back down.

“It doesn’t get much more confrontational than that,” said Alex Kreit, a law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


California Dispensaries Moving to Block U.S. Marijuana Crackdown

November 8, 2011

The New York Times on November 7, 2011 released the following:

“By ERIK ECKHOLM

SAN FRANCISCO — Lawyers for the medical marijuana industry said on Monday that they would seek court orders to halt a threatened federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, their landlords and marijuana growers.

In legal motions to be filed on Tuesday, marijuana distributors and some medical patients will ask federal judges in four districts to issue temporary restraining orders to prevent federal prosecutors from taking action, lawyers and a lobbyist for the industry said at a news conference here on Monday.

“The government’s irrational policy has reached a breaking point,” said Matthew Kumin, one of the lawyers. “The federal government said it will not prosecute patients, and yet they want to shut off their supply. This doesn’t make sense.”

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though its use is allowed for medical purposes in California and some other states. But federal prosecutors and drug agents say that behind the mask of meeting medical needs, much of California’s burgeoning marijuana industry is engaged in large-scale illegal sales.

In letters sent out in late September, the prosecutors warned numerous dispensaries to shut down or face serious civil or criminal charges, including possible seizure of the property of their landlords. Recipients of letters were given 45 days to halt illegal sales, a period that for many ends on Saturday.

Mr. Kumin said that if a restraining order was not quickly granted by the federal judges, he expected some dispensaries to shut down.

The courts could issue an immediate restraint, schedule hearings on whether to grant a preliminary injunction or deny the requests, which the plaintiffs argue are based on a variety of constitutional and state rights.

Tensions between California and the federal government over medical marijuana have been building since the state became the first to authorize public sales, in 1996. Now, 15 other states and the District of Columbia also allow sales of marijuana to patients with a doctor’s prescription.

A thriving industry of growers and storefront dispensaries has emerged in California that pays substantial sums in state and local taxes, but that federal drug officials see as largely illegal. The Internal Revenue Service has also started a crackdown, denying some sellers the right to deduct marijuana-related business expenses.

Asked to comment on the suits, Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, issued this statement: “Unless and until ordered otherwise, we will continue to do our duty in enforcing federal narcotics laws.””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


US attorney eyes going after media running pot ads

October 13, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“By JULIE WATSON
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The chief federal prosecutor in San Diego is contemplating expanding a federal crackdown on the medical marijuana industry by going after newspapers, radio stations and other outlets that run advertisements for California’s pot dispensaries, her office told The Associated Press on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy made the comments initially to California Watch, a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Journalism. They come a week after she and three other U.S. attorneys in California vowed to close medical marijuana businesses they deem questionable and single out people who rent buildings or land to the industry.

“I’m not just seeing print advertising,” Duffy told California Watch. “I’m actually hearing radio and seeing TV advertising. It’s gone mainstream. Not only is it inappropriate – one has to wonder what kind of message we’re sending to our children – it’s against the law.”

Duffy wasn’t available Thursday to speak to the AP but her office confirmed the comments published by California Watch.

The federal government will determine whether the media crackdown is necessary as the results of last week’s actions unfold, Duffy’s spokeswoman Debra Hartman said. She cited a federal law that prohibits people from placing ads that have the purpose of buying or selling a controlled substance.

“If I own a newspaper … or I own a TV station, and I’m going to take in your money to place these ads, I’m the person who is placing these ads,” Duffy said, according to California Watch. “I am willing to read (the law) expansively and if a court wants to more narrowly define it, that would be up to the court.”

Duffy declined to give further details on the plan under consideration or say whether a media crackdown would involve the state’s other U.S. attorneys. But a spokesman for the Sacramento U.S. attorney told the Bakersfield Californian that there were no plans to go after advertising.

Duffy’s comments are creating a buzz in the media industry, California Newspaper Publishers Association executive director Tom Newton said. As it stands now, advertisers are responsible for the contents of their ads in newspapers, he said.

“If they are false, misleading or fall below the line in other legal ways, advertisers are responsible,” he said. “Newspapers don’t have the staff or time to vet every claim in every ad that they run.”

Duffy, whose district encompasses San Diego and Imperial counties, and the U.S. attorneys in three other California districts sent written warnings last week to landlords leasing property to dozens of warehouses and agricultural parcels where marijuana is being grown and for retail spaces where it is sold, telling them to evict their tenants or face criminal charges or seizure of their assets.

The attorneys say the state’s law legalizing medical marijuana was intended to allow it to be supplied to seriously ill people on a nonprofit basis. But the law has been abused by people who are just looking to get rich, they say.

The action comes only months after the Obama administration tightened its stance on the issue.

Media owners were waiting to see what happens before reacting publicly, Newton said.

“I think everybody needs to take a breath here and really think about the implications of this issue and whether or not this is a reasonable effort and use of the limited resources of the U.S. attorney’s office,” Newton said.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.