Aaron Sandusky sentenced to 10 years in federal prison

By Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
Posted:   01/07/2013 10:23:43 AM PST
Updated:   01/07/2013 11:19:59 AM PST

Aaron Sandusky has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.The former G3 Holistic Inc. medical marijuana dispensary president was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for operating medical marijuana dispensaries in Upland, Colton and Moreno Valley.

"In this case, as the defendant was warned, the court's hands are tied," U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said.

"Whether you agree with the defendant's position or not."

Sandusky was found guilty in October of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana plants, to possess with intent to distribute marijuana plants, and to maintain a drug-involved premises; and one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana plants, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.Anderson recommended that Sandusky serve his time in Victorville federal prison.

Sandusky's hands and feet were shackled in Roybal Federal Building and Courthouse. He was clad in a white prison suit and green jacket.

"I want to apologize to those with me and their families who have been victimized by the federal government who has not recognized the voters of this state," Sandusky said in court.

State voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing medical marijuana in the state, while state Senate Bill 420, which details the amount of marijuana a person can possess for medical purposes, prevents cities and counties from banning marijuana dispensaries. But federal law says marijuana - medical or otherwise - is illegal."I want to apologize to the families who are suffering and who have to go through this," Sandusky said.

"There are no winners here. Not the state, not the federal government, not the patients who need medical marijuana."

Government lawyers said four additional charges that Sandusky was facing will be dismissed.

Government attorneys had no comment at the courthouse.

During the court appearance, someone yelled "We love you, Aaron."

The sentencing was also greeted with sobs from attendees.

Despite being shackled, Sandusky was able to give two thumbs up as he left the courtroom. He showed no emotion throughout the appearance.

Sandusky turns 43 on Tuesday.

"It's not going to be a real happy birthday," G3 Holistic patient Christopher Kenner said. "I hate to think this is the last time I'll see him."

Federal authorities in June arrested Sandusky and additional operators of the Inland Empire chain of marijuana stores and others associated with a warehouse, where marijuana was cultivated for the stores, on federal drug trafficking charges.

A six-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury charged three owners and operators of G3 Holistic stores. The indictment also charged three people who allegedly worked at a large grow operation in an Ontario warehouse that supplied marijuana to the three G3 stores.

More details to come.

Please sign the petition to pardon him now!!!

Oakland cites surprise medical pot backerBob EgelkoUpdated 10:41 pm, Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oakland's latest round in its campaign to save the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary includes a statement this week from Mayor Jean Quan saying federal prosecutors should back off, and the federal government's own patent application lauding the therapeutic qualities of cannabis.

In papers filed late Tuesday with the magistrate who is considering the fate of the Harborside Health Center, lawyers for Oakland said patent and research records reveal that "the government believes in the medical efficacy of cannabis" - contrary to the Justice Department's insistence that marijuana is a dangerous drug with no legitimate use.

Cedric Chao, a lawyer for the city, cited a 2003 patent application by the U.S. government that said cannabis compounds are "useful in the treatment and prophylaxis (prevention) of a wide variety of oxidation-associated diseases," including certain types of strokes and immune-system disorders.

Chao quoted another patent application, by two government scientists in 2009, that referred to the "healing properties of Cannabis sativa," or marijuana, that have been "known throughout documented history."

"How can the government credibly deny the benefits of medical cannabis when the government itself is funding cutting-edge research proving the medical benefits of cannabis and seeking patents based on such research?" Chao wrote.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed suit in July seeking the closure of Harborside and the forfeiture of its offices at 1840 Embarcadero. She said the dispensary, which supplies marijuana to 108,000 patients, is violating federal drug laws.

On Dec. 20, U.S. Magistrate Maria Elena James is scheduled to consider a request by the building's owner, Ana Chretien, to shut down the dispensary and Oakland's request to put Chretien's motion on hold until James rules on the city's challenge to the government's suit. Oakland claims the federal statute of limitations required the government to seek forfeiture no later than 2011, five years after Harborside opened.

The city, which collects $1.4 million a year in business taxes from Harborside and other licensed dispensaries, submitted a sworn statement issued Tuesday by Quan in support of its case. She said Oakland adopted a permit system for medical marijuana suppliers after being told by federal officials that they would allow operation of facilities that complied with state and local laws.

If the federal government shuts down the dispensaries, Quan said, tens of thousands of patients "either will be forced to forgo their medicine or be forced into the back alleys and underground, illegal markets."

The city would be better off if the federal government would take the money from its fight against Harborside and use it "to instead increase our police force and assist Oakland with gun violence and investigations," the mayor said.

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: begelko@sfchronicle.com

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-cites-surprise-medical-pot-backer-4113767.php#ixzz2EwtYYYlA

One of the things I will be focused on highlighting in 2013 and 2014 will be these patents and the hipocrisy of the

This is SO rare that law enforcement is investigated and charged. Melinda Haag's offices needs to be contacted and given kudos for this case!

Created on Thursday, 06 December 2012 22:09
Written by IVN
Oakland, California - The former commander of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) and a special agent supervisor of the California Department of Justice pleaded guilty to five felony counts in federal court in Oakland today, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

Norman Wielsch admitted one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute marijuana and 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, one count of theft from programs receiving federal funds, two counts of civil rights conspiracy, and one count of Hobbs Act robbery.

In pleading guilty to the charges, Wielsch, 51, admitted to stealing from evidence facilities $30,000 to $70,000 worth of marijuana and methamphetamine that had been seized during legitimate CNET raids. Specifically, Wielsch admitted that he stole at least 20 pounds of marijuana and more than 400 grams of high-purity methamphetamine (ice) between November 2010 and February 2011. He further admitted to conspiring to distribute these drugs with his codefendant, private investigator and former Antioch police officer Christopher Butler, also 51.

In pleading to the civil rights conspiracies, Wielsch admitted that he and Butler participated together in a phony “sting” operation in which they falsely detained a young man under the guise of a legitimate law enforcement operation, conducted warrantless searches, and kept narcotics that were taken during the sting. Wielsch also admitted that he and Butler staged what purported to be legitimate sting operations against prostitutes but instead of seizing evidence and citing the prostitutes, they unlawfully took the prostitutes’ money and property for themselves. Wielsch acknowledged that they took more than $10,000 from individuals in the course of their prostitution robberies.

After entering his guilty plea, Wielsch was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Wielsch’s sentencing is scheduled for February 19, 2013, at 10 a.m. before Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong in Oakland.

Wielsch and Butler were indicted by a federal grand jury on August 9, 2011. Butler pleaded guilty on May 4, 2012, to a superseding information charging the same narcotics conspiracy, theft from programs receiving federal funds, two civil rights conspiracies and robbery counts to which Wielsch pleaded guilty, as well as extortion under color of official right and illegal wiretapping. On September 25, 2012, Butler was sentenced to 96 months in prison and a $20,000 fine, receiving a sentencing reduction for his cooperation with law enforcement in this and other investigations.

The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute marijuana and 50 grams or more of methamphetamine is life in prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum and a $10 million fine. The maximum statutory penalty for theft from programs receiving federal funds and conspiracy against rights is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for Hobbs Act robbery is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Hartley M. K. West is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rania Ghawi and Alycee Lane. The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation by the FBI with the assistance of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.