Posts tagged: federal courts
A 19-year-old Spokane man is in custody after a federal drug informant recorded him discussing how he'd stolen firearms and would “shoot it out with the cops” if he was approached.
Patrick Hayes Wellman was arrested on Friday just yards from Glover Middle School and within 1,000 feet of Shadle Park High School, where he attended, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks.
He appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday and is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail.
Investigators found hundreds of Ecstasy tablets in a safe at Wellman's apartment at 221 S. Adams in Spokane Valley, as well as marijuana on a coffee table and several bongs that “all smelled pretty bad,” Drug Enforcement Administration agent Sam Keiser testified on Wednesday.
The DEA began investigating Wellman after a confidential informant told them Friday that Wellman sold large quantities of Ecstasy and repeatably said he could obtain as many pills as he wished.
The informant was to buy 100 pills from Wellman for $450. During a recorded conversation, Wellman allegedly boasted to the informant of stealing firearms; when the informant asked what he would do if stopped by police, Wellman responded “Well, I'm not going to go down easy. I'm going to shoot it out with the cops,” Keiser testified.
That comment led police to initiated a traffic stop after tailing Wellman as he drove in Spokane last Friday. Five police vehicles blocked Wellman's car, and he was arrested without incident, Keiser said. He had a loaded .44 revolver in the car, Keiser said.
Wellman called his girlfriend from jail and told her a possible name of the informant, then asked her to inform two of his friends. The informant told the DEA he received a message from an unknown number saying “We know you're a snitch. You're dead.”
Asked by Wellman's public defender if the informant, who was previously arrested on drug charge, won't face criminal charges because of his cooperation, Keiser said, “if it's enough to warrant that, then yes.”
Wellman faces federal charges of possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. He's also charged in Spokane County Superior Court with residential burglary, first-degree theft, second-degree car theft, and six counts of theft of a firearm.
Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. divorced his wife to shield his assets and force taxpayers to foot the bill for his criminal defense, the federal prosecutor in the Otto Zehm case alleged in court documents filed last week.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin filed a motion asking U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle to allow the government to tell the jury in Thompson’s upcoming trial about the divorce agreement, which Durkin called a “fraudulent transfer” under Idaho law.
Thompson’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich, called the fraud
Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.
Past coverage and a document containing federal allegations
about Thompson’s divorce filing can be found here.
By Thomas Clouse
U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle didn’t have the kindest of responses Tuesday when a defense attorney representing Spokane police Office Karl F. Thompson, Jr. asked the judge to compel federal prosecutors to turn over the names, phone numbers and addresses of several witnesses who watched the confrontation with Otto Zehm (right).
Attorney Courtney Garcea, who is helping Carl Oreskovich represent Thompson, said she understood that the law does not require federal prosecutors to hand over that information, but that the matter did fall under the judge’s discretion.
“It is certainly reasonable that the United States be ordered to provide that information,” she said.
Van Sickle responded by saying that anyone who can operate a computer “would find this information within key strokes. Why can’t this be done by people working on behalf of the defense team?”
Garcea responded by saying the government has that information readily available and it would avoid the time necessary to find the addresses and phone numbers.
Van Sickle, who became more animated, said that information could have been found in the time it took Garcea to make the argument.
“I kind of scratch my head. Have you called the U.S. Attorney’s Office and asked for it?” he asked.
When Garcea replied no, he said: “Why didn’t you do it?”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin said he would have responded to such a request by contacting the witnesses and inquiring whether they want to speak to the defense.
If so, he would have provided the information Garcea sought.
“It’s unfathomable to believe they don’t have the ability to track down the information,” Durkin said.
He pointed out that the Spokane Police Department took down every name, date of birth, address and phone number of the witnesses they interviewed at the convenience store on March 18, 2006, following the confrontation with Zehm who died two days later.
“They have a lot of resources and access to the information,” Durkin said. “This motion was designed to bog down the United States with briefings without any contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office at all.”
Oreskovich then got up and apologized to the judge. He explained that he has been unable to locate six witnesses.
“I’m not Internet proficient,” Oreskovich said. “My apologies to this court that I didn’t write a letter saying I couldn’t find these particular witnesses.”
Van Sickle ended the discussion by saying: “I don’t think (finding) six people would be an onerous project.”
The exchange came during a hearing in which Van Sickle denied Oreskovich’s request to dismiss a lying charge against Thompson.
Read the story here
Newly filed documents reveal new details about the encounter with Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson (left) and other officers that led to Otto Zehm’s death.
Tom Clouse wrote an article explaining that allegations of a cover up by Spokane police officers over their handling of the fatal Otto Zehm confrontation and the department’s investigation of the case are being presented to a federal grand jury.
The ongoing obstruction of justice probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI includes indications that some Spokane police officers, including Assistant Chief Jim Nicks and lead detective Terry Ferguson, now are acknowledging that the city’s earlier characterizations of the fatal encounter were wrong and that its investigation was incomplete and inaccurate.
The new documents contain several details that didn’t make it into the story, including the revelation that Thompson and other officers were watching the Gonzaga men’s basketball team play a NCAA tournament game at an SPD substation when the Zehm call came in.
Thompson responded to the call because he “is originally from Los Angeles, lives in North Idaho, and had no interest in the GU game,” according to the documents.
Also in the documents, federal prosecutors question the financial status of Thompson that allowed him to successfully petition to have tax payers foot the bill for his defense.
Thompson filed for divorce in September 3 from his wife of 38 years after the $2.9 million civil suit was filed.
The divorce agreement called for her receiving “all interest” in the couple’s log home, which was listed for sale at $675,000, near Hayden.
The agreement also allows Thompson to remain in the home free of rent.
But some 18 months after the divorce decree, “the family home is no longer for sale and the defendant is reported to still reside at the home with his purported ex-wife,” according to the documents.
A former Hanford manager and his wife are facing criminal charges for allegedly using a company credit card to spend $487,000 on personal items.
Paul F. Kempf and Anita M. Gust are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal wire fraud in U.S. District Court. Kempf was an operations manager between 2000 and 2005 for Richland companies Fluor Hanford and CH2M Hill Hanford Group.
Kempf is accused of using company-issued credit cards for purchases listed as laboratory supplies from a Tri-Cities company called AMG Marketing, owned by Gust.
Read the rest of Tom Sowa’s story here.
Four Spokane Police Department employees have been named as possible witnesses in the federal trial of an officer charged in the death of Otto Zehm (right).
Senior Police Officer Robert Boothe, Patrol Offier Jason Uberuaga, Detective Scott Lesser and Assistant Police Chief Jim Nicks are listed in a document filed this week in U.S. District Court.
Boothe is the lead defensive tactics instructor for the Spokane Police Department and trained Thompson on the use of force. The document says Boothe “is qualified” to testify on a number of issues, including that “the firing of a taser at Otto Zehm, who was actively resistant but not actively assaultive, was objectively unreasonable and is contrary to the Department’s defensive tactics training, and violated Spokane Police Department policies.”
Uberuaga can testify that, among other things, “Officer Thompson also did not “stop” at any time to give his claimed verbal commands to Otto Zehm,” according to the documents.
Lesser is the police department’s certified Taser instructor. He’ll be able to testify that policy calls for tasers to be used only if a suspect is “displaying assaultive behavior toward the officer or other subjects,” according to court documents.
Nicks may testify that “Based on the security video, Otto Zehm did not take a boxing stance and/or throw punches at Officer Thompson in the south aisle. The objective video evidence is inconsistent with Officer Thompson’s statement to SPD investigators,” according to the documents.
Prosecutors also filed a detailed list of possible expert witnesses outside the police department.
Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich filed a list of witnesses today, too. They include: D.P. Van Blaricom, Daniel Davis, M.D.; Mark DeBard, M.D; James Nania, M.D; Gary Stimac, M.D; and Allen Tencer, PhD.
No details of their expected testimony were included in the filings.
Read the documents:
A heroin bust near a Spokane Catholic school led to the indictment of three people in U.S. District Court this week.
Richard J. Bordwell, Susan L. Goin and Lonnie R. Goin are accused of selling heroin out of an apartment at 807 E. Augusta Ave., which is about a block from St. Aloysius School.
Lonnie Goin, 30, was arrested on a drug possession charge March 10, according to court records, and is in custody at Geiger Correction Center. Bordwell was sentenced in May to a year in prison for drug dealing in a different case. Susan Goin is not in custody.
The three were indicted Wednesday on federal charges of heroin distribution, conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and maintaining drug-involved premises within 1,000 feet of a private elementary school.
Goin already has a conviction for drug possession in 2008, according to news archives. His father, Lonnie R. Goin, Sr., was sentenced in December 2008 to 20 months in prison with credit for 158 days served in jail after pleading guilty to five drug charges. Read about his arrest here.
Also indicted this week: A Spokane Valley couple arrested nearly a year ago with 2 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine.
The Spokane County sheriff’s SWAT team raided the home of Michael D. “Bull” Luce, alias Kenneth Michael Luce, and Amanda G. McIntyre at 1421 E. Rowan on April 30.
Along with the meth, investigators reportedly found four firearms, including an AK-47. The two were arrested but never arraigned on state charges. They were indicted Thursday on one federal charge of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of meth. Luce also was charged with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Joining the newly indicted federal defendants is accused ATM burglar/drug dealer/gun possessor/bail bondsman threaten-er/ George Butrick.
Already in jail on about a dozen state charges ranging from drugs to assault, Butrick was indicted Thursday in U.S. District Court on one count of felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition for a revolver and 10 ammo rounds police found on Oct. 30, according to court document.
Read more about Butrick: Police: Gunman threatens bail bond employee
By Thomas Clouse
A federal judge ruled Thursday in favor of the city of Spokane and granted a motion brought by the attorneys for Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. to obtain Otto Zehm’s mental health records from a 2000 stay at Eastern State Hospital.
However, U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle said he will wait until later to determine whether Thompson gets to use those mental health records in his defense during the trial, which is currently set for June 2.
“Officer Thompson is entitled to offer evidence – including information which he was unaware at the time of the confrontation – as long as the evidence tends to make his version of the confrontation more probable,” Van Sickle wrote in part. “Information in Mr. Zehm’s psychiatric records arguably satisfies that standard.”
Thompson’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich, last week argued that Zehm had been off his medication for paranoid schizophrenia for several weeks prior to his March 18, 2006, confrontation with Thompson. Therefore, Oreskovich said, Zehm, a 36-year-old janitor, was already exhibiting characteristics of “excited delirium” before Thompson confronted him.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Durkin argued that excited delirium is not a medically recognized term and only is used by police agencies to describe otherwise unexplainable deaths by persons when they are being taken into custody.
Durkin said Thursday that he could not discuss the case, and Oreskovich could not be reached late Thursday for comment.
“At this stage in the proceedings, the Court does not rule on the admissibility of the evidence sought by Officer Thompson,” Van Sickle wrote. “If, in fact, Mr. Zehm behaved in a defiant and aggressive manner on March 18, 2006, due to a lack of medication, Officer Thompson may have been justified in using force to subdue him.”
Past coverage: Thompson’s defense wants Zehm’s medical records
A jury cleared a former
It was the second trial for the former
The first jury acquitted Christensen on six counts in June but couldn’t reach a verdict on 12 counts.
Federal prosecutors retried Christensen on three counts of prescribing methadone, hydrocodone and/or alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug, “outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose” for incidents between Dec. 28, 2000 and Jan. 12, 2001. Witnesses included an ISP detective who posed as a patient to visit Christensen.
Christensen always denied wrong doing, according to his defense
lawyer, David E. DokkenÖ, of
“He was a thorough and competent doctor who passionately pursued his practice,” according to court documents prepared by Dokken.
Christensen originally was indicted on charges relating to the deaths of several patients.
In 1998, a state investigation found that Christensen prescribed painkillers and narcotics to seven patients without treating their underlying problems, according to previously published reports.
In 2001, Christensen agreed to voluntarily give up his license for two years and undergo at least a six-month pain management course after the Idaho State Board of Medicine accused him of prescribing drugs that resulted in a patient’s death.
He also agreed to pay the state $2,000 to cover its investigative costs.
Jurors deliberated for about 10 hours before acquitting Christensen on Wednesday.
Christensen had a practice in
Two men who killed a grizzly bear in Pend Oreille County are prohibited from hunting for two years and will be on probation for five years, according to a plea deal approved this week.
Brandon D. Rodeback, 26, and Kurtis L. Cox, 30, of Moses Lake, killed the bear on Oct. 1, 2007, while hunting in a designated grizzly bear recovery zone near Ione.
They skinned and buried the bear in Moses Lake. A tip to authorities led to federal charges in July. The men pleaded guilty Monday to transporting wildlife against federal law, a misdemeanor.
In addition to probation and forfeiture of hunting rights, Rodeback and Cox will pay a $3,000 fine and $14,857 to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for endangered species recovery projects, according to court documents.
The bear was tagged with a radio transmitter and had been followed for the past 14 years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called the bear’s death “a set-back to state and federal efforts and protect this iconic species.”
“With grizzly bear populations struggling to survive, every single bear is critical to the species’ recovery,” according to a prepared statement.
A reputed drug runner who leased the helicopter flown by the young man who committed suicide in Spokane County Jail has been indicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
This came after Colin Martin reportedly tried negotiating U.S. protection for his smuggling ring in exchange for handing over his coconspirators.
Martin’s offer is detailed in the indictment filed Dec. 23, which led Canadian authorities to warn him of possible death threats.
It’s the latest development in the Operation Blade Runner drug bust, a multimillion-dollar international smuggling operation that used helicopters to distribute thousands of pounds of marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy, landing in remote sites in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
The indictment shows co-conspirators apparently blamed Martin for the botched run by Samuel J. Lindsay-Brown (top right), allegedly sending Blackberry messages that said Martin “will be lucky if he is not dead.”
They reportedly wanted him to pay for the lost load, estimated to be worth $4 million to $5 million. That was back in February. Canadian authorities thought the guys might be a little ticked when public court documents filed last month detailed Martin’s alleged offer to tell U.S. drug agents all about them.
Read my latest story: Drug ring details emerge
Past coverage: A tale of drugs, money and helicopters
A Canadian gangster connected to a drug bust that led to a young man’s suicide in the Spokane County Jail is to be sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Clay Roueche (ROOSH’) faces about 30 years in prison for federal drug conspiracy and trafficking charges.
Roueche is the founder of the United Nations gang in Vancouver, B.C., and has been described by federal prosecutors as “worldly and charismatic” but “remorseless” and “extraordinarily dangerous.”
The UN gang is believed to be responsible for a drug ring that used a network of helicopters, planes, semi-trucks and other methods to move many tons of marijuana and cocaine and millions of dollars through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
When taken into custody by U.S. agents in Texas in May 2008 (pictured above), Roueche reportedly was wearing a ring worth $125,000.
Prosecutors are recommending he serve at least 30 years in prison. Roueche’s attorney says there’s no evidence he engaged in the violence, including targeted killings, that the UN has been blamed for, according to the Associated Press. He suggests a sentence of 15 to 20 years.
Court documents link Roueche to Joseph P. Curry, who is named as a suspect in the Operation Blade Runner federal drug bust that included arrests in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. (Curry was arrested by federal agents with 68 pounds of Ecstasy in Eastern Washington in 2007 but posted bail and never returned, according to court documents.)
Curry and Roueche were photographed together at the funeral of a UN gang member who was killed in a drug-related shooting in Canada, according to federal court documents.
One defendant in the Blade Runner case cited a murder kit found at Roueche’s home when explaining why she wanted her court file sealed.
Another defendant in the case, Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown, 24, killed himself in jail Feb. 27 after being arrested with a helicopter filled with marijuana he was to exchange to two men for cocaine. (Read more here.)
One of those men, Leonard J. Ferris, was sentenced to six years in federal prison during a closed proceeding Dec. 2.
Apparently even the federal government is feeling generous this time of year.
A Spokane-area drug dealer who has failed to show up for court 75 times and is awaiting sentencing on his latest cocaine conviction will be allowed to leave the Spokane County Jail next week to spend Thanksgiving dinner with his family.
Two law enforcement officers must be with Terrence A. “T-Baby” Kinard, 52, for the five-hour jail furlough next week. His family - not the government - is required to pay for the escorting officers, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno ruled Tuesday.
Read the rest of my story here.
We posted the story last night, so there are two versions because the print edition automatically uploads to the site after midnight. Read the other copy’s comments here.
Two accused marijuana smugglers will be represented by publicly paid, private attorneys because of a a conflict of interest with the federal defender’s office.
William Richard Paterson, 50, and Jahrum David Oakes, 32, both of Kelowna B.C, appeared in U.S District Court in Spokane this morning for bail hearings that were rescheduled next Friday at the request of their attorneys.
Frank Cikutovich is representing Oakes; Mark Casey is representing Paterson. Each will be paid $110 an hour, according to federal court documents. No details on the defender’s office conflict of interest was immediately available.
Paterson and Oakes were arrested Sunday night near the border in Ferry County after DEA agents say they were trying to smuggle in eight duffel bags filled with marijuana, weighing about 235 pounds. The men remain in Spokane County Jail.
Paterson, a thin man with a full beard and tattoos covering his left arm, requested his bail hearing be delayed to give him time to resolve “some family situations” back home, Casey said.
Oakes’ bail hearing was continued to the same day after Cikutovich said he needed more time to address flight risks raised by pre-trial services.
Assistant U.S Attorney Matt Duggan said Oakes, a taller man with a shaved face and slicked back hair, has already failed to appear in court once on an unrelated charge, is unemployed, has a “possible history of substance abuse” and has an outstanding misdemeanor warrant in Okanogan County.
Cikutovich said they have a tentative agreement regarding the Okanogan warrant and have been in contact with Oakes girlfriend of 2 1/2 years.
Kelowna, B.C., lawyer Marty Johnson will work with Oakes back home if he’s released, Cikutovich said.
Kelowna, a city of about 115,000, is a 255-mile drive from Spokane.
Next Friday’s bail hearing is set for 10:30 a.m.
Read a previous story on the bust here.
DENVER (AP) — A Spokane man accused of threatening relatives of a Colorado doctor who performs late-term abortions is considering a plea deal.
Federal court documents filed in Denver said Donald Hertz indicated he was willing to accept the offer with minor modifications.
His attorney Russell Van Camp said Wednesday he doesn’t want Hertz to go to jail. Hertz is accused of calling the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colo., on June 23 and threatening to kill members of Dr. Warren Hern’s family.
The call came within weeks of the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, who operated a similar clinic in Wichita, Kan.
Hertz faces charges of making an interstate threat and of violating a law protecting access to reproductive health service.
Read a previous story here.
Two Canadian men are due in U.S District Court Thursday after being caught near the border this week with what federal agents described as eight duffel bags of marijuana.
William Richard Paterson, 50, and Jahrum David Oakes, 32, are in the Spokane County Jail. A bail hearing is set for tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. to decide if they should be granted bail or remain in custody pending charges of marijuana possession with intent to distribute.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Spokane drove to Ferry County on a tip that that drug smugglers were at property near a home at Fourth of July Creek Road in Danville, Wash., adjacent to the border, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday.
The homeowner, who was not arrested, let federal agents search his property, where they found Ronnie Mark Buhlinger standing near haystacks about 100 yards west of the home and 500 yards south of the border.
Buhlinger was questioned but released in Spokane “pending further investigation,” agents said.
Paterson and Oakes were arrested after DEA agents spotted them walking from the direction of the border each carrying two large duffel bags of marijuana, according the affidavit.
Four more duffel bags were found at a border fence about 500 yards from where the men were arrested, documents allege.
Agents said the eight bags together weighed about 235 pounds.
A man who eluded federal agents for nearly a month was due in Spokane County Superior Court today, accused of stealing his mother’s car and filling it up with stolen gas while on the run this summer.
Anthony E. Burke, alias Anthony Garver, was sentenced to just under eight months in federal prison in September.
The 21-year-old was arrested July 31 after he never showed up to be taken to the Geiger Work Release Center after he was released from federal prison in California. Federal agents tracked footprints near his mother’s home along East Offmy Lane, west of Newman Lake, and found Burke hiding under a camouflage netting. Burke apologized profusely in a letter to Judge Edward Shea filed Sept. 17.
“Every single day I regret not showing up because I destroyed my chance to be free and to go to school, establish myself, and get it over with and move on with my life,” Burke wrote. “Not to mention prove that I can succeed in completing my supervised released without problems, and also prove that I am not the person that they said I am.”
Court papers filed as part of his federal weapons conviction paint Burke as a troubled young man haunted by his step-father’s abuse and angry at authorities for calling him mentally ill.
“I had the notion that the deck would always be stacked against me,” Burke wrote. “A good portion of my concerns were brought about by stories I was told by people who’ve been on supervised release. However, when I look back I regret being influenced by them because they were probably not credible.”
Burke’s recent charges in Spokane County allege he stole his mother and stepfather’s truck while on the run, then filled it up with nearly $70 in gas he didn’t pay for and drove to Kalispel, Mt.
Read a previous story here.
A father of two with no criminal record, accused of bring 38 kilos of cocaine into the country from Canada, will go before a federal magistrate again this Thursday to ask for his release.
Salmon Arm, B.C, resident Michael B. Yuill, 36, (left, dressed as Shrek for Halloween 2005 in a picture from his hometown paper, the Observer) has been in the Spokane County Jail without bail after his arrest Oct. 7.
A federal prosecutor warned of the trouble Yuill could face back home for losing that much cocaine when he argued fro Yuill to remain in jail at a hearing Oct. 13.
U.S Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno took a night to make her decision, ruling the next morning that there isn’t proof Yuill has a plan for his release that would ensure he’d appear for court dates. While Yuill is very close to his mother and has monthly contact with his brothers, Imbrogno noted that no family members attended his bail hearing Tuesday.
“Typically, if a defendant is a citizen from outside the United States, there is strong family support present at the bail hearing with reasonable assurances the family can assist with supervision and with facilitating an individual’s return for court dates,” Imbrogno wrote.
Cue Maureen Yuill, the defendant’s mother, who will be in Spokane Thursday for a hearing on a motion from to reconsider her son’s detention.
She “will offer other letters of support from the community and will address the Court’s concerns regarding a more structured release plan,” according to the motion. “Mr. Yuill is able to post a cash bond and will abide by any conditions as the Court believes is appropriate to ensure his appearance and also safe guard the safety of the community.”
Yuill pleaded not guilty Oct. 27 to one count of possession with intent to deliver 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.
The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
A Spokane Valley man will spend 23 years in prison for helping run a meth ring that distributed more than 33 pounds of the drug, the U.S attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Washington announced today.
Daniel A. Flaherty, 36, also will be on probation for 10 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The family-based drug trafficking organization operated out of the Tri-Cities and led investigators to more than 30 pounds of meth and $700,000.
Federal agents found more than four pounds of meth in Flaherty’s storage unit in Spokane Valley in October 2008.
Flaherty will give up personal property and more than $23,000 seized from his bank account. He had a prior felony drug conviction that gave him a minimum penalty of 20 years in prison.
A raid at his home in 2004 dismantled his expensive lifestyle, according to an article you can read here.
New orders from the U.S Justice Department to end federal prosecution of state-authorized medical marijuana patients and dispensaries will have no effect on cases in Eastern Washington, prosecutors said Monday.
The policy memo issued today calls for an end to prosecution of medical marijuana patients who are in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state medical marijuana laws.
Those cases already aren’t prosecuted here, said Jim McDevitt, the U.S attorney for Eastern Washington.
“This office has, at least in my memory, never prosecuted anyone purely and simply because they were a medical marijuana user,” McDevitt said Monday. “But we have gone after them because they’ve basically been a distributor of medical marijuana.”
McDevitt said he is interested in pursuing federal charges against local dispensaries found in violation of the state’s medical marijuana law.
Read the rest of my story here.
Click here to read Jim Camden’s Sunday story on large marijuana growing operations led by Mexican drug cartels that McDevitt said are becoming a big problem in Eastern Washington.
Today’s announcement won’t change much locally. But the debate is raging in California, where weed advocates are gathering signatures to get as many as three pot-legalization measures on the ballot in 2010 in California, according to The Associated Press. (The picture above is from a grow raid in August.)
“Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, period,” the article reads. “After overseeing a series of raids that destroyed more than 300,000 marijuana plants in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills this summer, federal drug czar Gil Kerlikowske proclaimed, “Legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary, and it’s not in mine.””
Click on the link below to read the full story by Marcus Wohlsen, which was published Oct. 7.