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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: marijuana

First Stevens Co. pot shop opens its doors

The first retail marijuana store in Stevens County has opened its doors for business, though employees say they're suffering from the same lack of product that has plagued other stores in the region.

Savage THC in Clayton, Washington, opened last week and is keeping regular hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, said store employee Cameron Duncan on Friday. The store is the first of six potential pot shops in the county, registered with the Liquor Control Board, to receive a license and open for business.

Duncan said the store is currently carrying strains from Farmer J's, a grower in Spokane Valley that has done business with Spokane's first recreational marijuana store, Spokane Green Leaf.

“We're working on a couple more local strains,” Duncan said. “Down the road, we should be carrying some different stuff.”

The store sells loose marijuana, rolled joints, pipes and other smoking paraphernalia, Duncan said. Prices remain at levels higher than the store would like because of supply issues, Duncan said, but the store hopes costs to consumers will fall as the market stabilizes.

The other five potential pot shops in Stevens County are listed below. They are all located in Colville, and applications are pending with the Liquor Control Board, according to public records.

CARDIAC SOLUTIONS NORTHWEST 415285 176 PONDEROSA RD   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142003
COLVILLE SMOKES 414681 672 S MAIN ST   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142506
HERBAL E SCENTS 414902 545 C HWY 395 S   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 99114
SECRET HERB SHOP 413995 272 N LINCOLN ST   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142340
SUPER EXPRESSIONS 415989 1040 N HWY   COLVILLE WA STEVENS 991142032

 

Trial pushed in ‘Kettle Falls 5’ case

The controversial federal trial of a marijuana growing co-operative calling themselves the “Kettle Falls 5” has been delayed so that defense attorneys can review new evidence obtained by prosecutors.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle granted a continuance of the trial last week. The case, brought by federal prosecutors against five Stevens County residents who say they were legally growing marijuana on property in rural Stevens County to treat medical conditions, could have far-reaching implications for the state’s budding pot industry.

The defendants face several criminal counts that carry mandatory sentences of 10 years in prison. A new trial date has not been set as attorneys review electronic materials they say prosecutors made available to them earlier this month. The trial had originally been scheduled to begin Monday.

Ninja weaponry found at drug and car theft bust near Newport

A raid on a suspected car theft and marijuana-growing operation in rural Pend Oreille County earlier this week revealed the suspects may have been planning some unconventional self-defense.

Court documents show several anticipated items turned up in the search, which was conducted in conjunction with U.S. Border Patrol agents and the Spokane County Sheriff's SWAT team. Drug paraphernalia, large quantities of cash and an unspecified number of marijuana plants.

The throwing stars, however, seemed out of place with the modern ballistic weapons authorities unearthed. 

Agencies raided the property southwest of Newport after a suspect in a car theft detailed a stolen parts for drugs operation taking place in the area. Neighbors reported the clamor of bulldozers at all hours of the night followed by trailers pulling crushed cars from the property.

Two men were arrested in the raid. The search warrant authorizes authorities to search Walter Randall Todd, who was reported as out of custody from the Pend Oreille County jail on Thursday.

Several firearms found inside foreclosed home

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives found several firearms inside a South Hill home where a man shot and killed himself Sunday.

Detectives seized five assault rifles and four hand guns from the 4500 block of East Sumac Drive where 62-year-old Warren C. Schrempp, Jr. was growing marijuana at a foreclosed home, according to recently filed court documents.

Detectives cataloged three of the weapons as loaded including an AK-47-style rifle, a Glock and Makarov pistol. They also found four adult marijuana plants and 10 starter plants. Schrempp had authorization to grow medical marijuana, court documents show.

Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office called Schrempp’s death a suicide. A real estate agent called police after a locksmith smelled marijuana at the property and saw a car in the garage, they told authorities.

Sheriff’s detectives found a sliding door open and announced their presence, but they heard a muffled gunshot and called a SWAT team, previous reports said.

Feds nearing end of pot legalization review

The U.S. Justice Department reportedly is nearing the end of its review of Washington and Colorado's new laws legalizing marijuana and could be announcing soon how it will respond.

The issue is that while voters in Washington and Colorado have legalized pot under state laws, it remains illegal under federal law.

Attorney General Eric Holder told a meeting of state attorneys general he is examining policy options and international implications of the issue, The Associated Press reported today.

Holder's assessment could result in the federal government suing the states over the new laws, the wire service said. Alternatively, Holder could decide not to mount a court challenge. The Justice Department examination has been under way since shortly after last fall's elections. Washington and Colorado became the first states to pass laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

State and local authorities have said they're hoping to get some sense of how the federal government will respond to voters' wishes before spending a lot of time and effort developing regulatory systems to control production and sale of legal pot.

Gregoire looking for guidance from feds on pot

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire will meet with Deputy Attorney General James Cole to discuss the state's recent passage of a measure to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Gregoire spokesman Cory Curtis said that the governor would be meeting with Cole Tuesday morning before other meetings she was already scheduled to have in Washington, D.C.

Initiative 502 passed with 55 percent of the vote last week. The measure decriminalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana beginning Dec. 6, but the state has a year to come up with rules governing the growing, processing and labeling of pot before sales to adults over 21 can begin. Colorado also passed a measure legalizing the drug.

Curtis said Gregoire wanted to meet with federal officials because “we want direction from them.”

Piranhas, alligator seized on South Hill

Piranhas and a small alligator were seized from a South Hill apartment on Friday. (submitted photos)

Piranhas offered for trade on Craigslist led state fish and game agents to seize several of the exotic, human-eating fish from an apartment on Spokane’s lower South Hill.

 The rare find took another surprising twist when agents also found a small alligator in Christopher Ryan Harper’s apartment at 1206 W. 6th Ave. on Friday, as well as a suspected marijuana-selling operation, police say.

The alligator is being cared for at SpokAnimal, the piranhas were killed and taken as evidence, said Madonna Luers, spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Luers said she couldn’t confirm the number of piranhas seized. Police said 20, but Harper said he only had six.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man, 78, sent to prison for pot dealing

A 78-year-old man who allowed drug traffickers to use his property just south of the Canadian border in Ferry County will spend 2 1/2 years in federal prison, a judge ruled Thursday.

Alvin Oliver Shields had 700 pounds of marijuana on his property when federal agents searched it in 2009. His lawyer, Jeffry Finer, said he retired from drug trafficking two years before a grand jury indicted him in September.

Shields and his wife live in Lebanon, Ore. His criminal history includes only a conviction for petty larceny in 1958.

Finer described him in court documents as a good humored man with poor hearing and early signs of dementia. He graduated high school in the 1950s but can't remember the year. He also couldn't initially remember the name of his first wife.

“Mr. Shields was ultimately able to provide it to Probation when he noticed it was tattooed on his left arm,” Finer wrote.

Prosecutors say Shields lived in Canada for 30 years. Federal agents began investigating Shields in 2003 after a Border Patrol agent found four duffel bags with 140 pounds of marijuana after four people ran from Fourth of July Creek Road, west of Danville, into Canada.

The agent then saw Shields “driving slowly in a van with the rear cargo doors propped open,” according to a plea agreement.

Then in 2008, a multi-agency investigation determined Shields was letting marijuana traffickers in Canada transport pot to his property, where it was then taken to Spokane and stored for distribution by U.S. drug traffickers.

Shields pleaded guilty in May to money laundering, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (dating back to 2003) and three counts of failure to file income tax returns.

He was sentenced Thursday in Spokane by U.S. District Judge Rosanna Peterson to 30 months in prison followed by five years of probation. The court is recommending he be housed at the federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., to allow his wife, whom Finer described as “aged and unwell,” to visit.

Finer said a short incarceration period “will promote respect for the law and provide general deterrence to others who, like Mr. Shields, may find criminal opportunity in owning property alongside the border with Canada.”

Medical pot robbery reported in Valley

Two men were arrested for a gunpoint robbery in Spokane Valley on Sunday that the victim said targeted medical marijuana.

Veniamin Glushchenko, 20, and Krysta Rose Jones, 21, are accused of robbing a man at a home in the 17400 block of East Coach Avenue.

Deputies responded to the home about 6:40 p.m. They located the suspect vehicle at the Hico at 1201 N. Barker Road and were told a man and woman had committed the robbery for a drug debt, according to court documnets.

An employee at Hico reported seeing a man and woman at the store about the time the car was discovered. The employee called 911 about 3 a.m. and said the man and woman were at the WalMart.

Deputies arrested Jones and Glushchenko there and booked them into jail for first-degree robbery, where they remain today.

Police eluder left prison 3 months ago

A Spokane man released from prison in April is back behind bars after leading police on a chase in a stolen car, authorities allege.

Zachary J. Schackel, 26, is to be arraigned today on charges of theft of a motor vehicle and attempting to elude police after a man awoke to the sound of his vehicle being started up and stolen from his driveway on July 17.

Officer Mario Juarez followed the victim's vehicle and tried to stop it at Mission and Hamilton, but it sped away. Juarez had to stop because he flattened a tire on spike strips meant for Schackel's vehicle, according to court documents.

Officer Ron Van Tassel continued pursuing the vehicle before it spun out near Upriver Drive and Frederick Street and the driver tried to run. Van Tassel chased the driver for a couple hundred yards before the man caught himself on an electric fence and was arrested, police say.

Schackel told police he'd recently smoked marijuana, documents say. He also had a suspended license.

Schackel was arrested on the new charges as well as a Washington Department of Corrections warrant.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months in prison after being found guilty of attempting to elude a police vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, reckless driving, and second-degree operating with a suspended license. He was released on April 21 and is on probation, according to the DOC.

Murdered man’s apartment burglarized

The family of a Western Washington man shot and killed nearly two weeks ago went to his Liberty Lake apartment to collect his things, only to find it burglarized and his newly purchased assault rifle missing.

Ryan Crews Mumm, 20, had been living in the area attending Spokane Community College, according to news reports.

He was shot and killed July 14 at Blue Stilly Park in Arlington in what police described as a dispute over $20 of marijuana. Suspect Dennis R. Watters, 41, of Tulalip, is in jail.

Mumm grew up in Arlington, and his family lives there. His sister, Jessica Olson, traveled to Liberty Lake to remove his items from the apartment at 22809 E. Country Vista Dr. and found it burglarized. An open rifle case sat on the living room floor. Olson said Mumm had bought a firearm at Cabela’s a couple months ago.

Liberty Lake police Detective Ray Bourgeois obtained a search warrant for Cabela’s firearm records that indicated the gun was a Romarm AK-47 assault rifle purchased by Mumm on Feb. 12. He entered the gun as stolen.

Pot thief shot in head sent to prison

A Spokane man who was shot in the head while trying to steal marijuana plants from a home last fall has sentenced to prison.

Joseph A. Gariepy, 41, was shot by Darcee Kapfer as he and Raymond Paul Bates, 49, tried to steal marijuana plants from Kapfer's home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. on Oct. 3. He was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison last week after pleading guilty to eight felonies.

Kapfer, who was legally allowed to possess the plants because of a state authorization card, is not facing charges. She did not notify police about the shooing but said in an interview with detectives that she shot the would-be thief after he grabbed a piece of wood. Kapfer reportedly told police, “I'm pretty sure I hit him. I'm a pretty good shot.”

Bates was arrested Oct. 3 with a gunshot wound to his head; a tipster later told police she'd removed a bullet from Gariepy's head shortly after the shooting.

Police compared Gariepy's DNA to blood stains found in the getaway car, a brown 1976 Ford Courier truck located near an alley in the 4500 block of North Division Street three days after the shooting.

Officers noted a wound on Gariepy's right ear consistent with a bullet when he was arrested Oct. 27.

Gariepy was sentenced last week to 87 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary, second-degree robbery, residential burglary, second-degree theft, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of an unlawful firearm, first-degree possession of stolen property and second-degree malicious mischief.  He is a repeat offender suspect with a 26-year criminal history, according to Crime Stoppers.

Bates was sentenced in December to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance, second-degree robbery and residential burglary.

Cops: Gun malfunction stopped murder

A Spokane man who police say would have killed a man had his gun not malfunctioned has been charged with attempted murder.

Carlos Himminez “Atlanta” Hodges, 38, was armed with a handgun when he confronted Kenneth Watkins at Watkins' home in the 1000 block of East 14th Avenue on Dec. 23, charges allege.

Hodges, who allegedly kicked in the front door about 4:38 a.m., demanded Watkins take him to his medical marijuana grow and hit Watkins with the gun when Watkins tried to disarm him, according to court documents.

Hodges stole marijuana, police say, but Watkins said he refused to take him to the basement because he feared Hodges would kill him there.

“Hodges then pointed the gun at Watkins and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not discharge,” according to court documents. “Hodges then ran away.”

Police completed their investigation in April. Hodges was charged this month with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery. He remains in jail on $150,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court last week.

3 Oregon men admit to Idaho pot grow

   Three Oregon men have pleaded guilty to growing large amounts of marijuana in Boundary County, Idaho.

Robert Wayne Baucum, 56, of Scio (left), Ronald Clifford Underwood (right), 55, and Raymond Earl Hogle, 50 (bottom left), both of Albany, grew marijuana in barns on property owned by Baucum in Naples, Idaho, from 2004 to 2011.

Hogle pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge in April. Baucum and Underwood pleaded guilty this week in Coeur d'Alene.

The men are to be sentenced July 17.

Co-defendants Justin Egner of Springfield, Ore., and Charles Goodenough of Willow, Alaska, are set for trial on July 17.

The case was investigated by the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Linn County Sheriff’s Office (Oregon), and the Alaska State Troopers.

Plea agreements and all other documents that might give details on the investigation have been sealed.

Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

A pro football player who claims God told him to start a fire at his apartment complex in Liberty Lake will remain in jail amid concerns about his mental health.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was dismissed from the Spokane Shock arena football team after his arrest June 14, repeatedly claimed to be Jesus Christ, including to an elderly woman who was at the hospital when Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.

“He may have some mental issues,” Ahmed said.

Ellison also told Shock general manager Ryan Rigmaiden “that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was part of the rapture, and that God told him to start the fire,” Ahmed said. “He did not believe it (the fire) was going to harm him because God told him he'd protect him.”

Ellison told Rigmaiden he started the fire with a marijuana blunt.

Ellison, a former standout defense back for the University of Southern California Trojans, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a grand jury indictment charging him with malicious use of fire to damage commercial property. He faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His public defender, Kim Deater, asked for Ellison to be allowed to leave jail and live with his mother and brother in Los Angeles, though she said they wants him to undergo mental health treatment.

“They think that might be an issue,” Deater said.

Deater described Ellison as “a good friend, a good teammate, a good son, a good player.”

She said his success in football shows he can work toward a goal with a large group of people.

“That takes cooperation, that takes a bond, and that takes character,” Deater said.

She also said Ellison did not tell the elderly woman at the hospital that he was Jesus - he simply grasped her hand and prayed with her.

But Imbrogno ordered Ellison to stay in the Spokane County Jail after Ahmed described a series of bizarre behavior that included statements from a Shock dancer who said she fears Ellison.

“She became afraid of Mr. Ellison after he texted her specifically that he was Jesus Christ,” Ahmed said.

The woman, who was not identified, also said Ellison asked her to marry him just moments after meeting her.

He said Ellison's roommate, Chris Tucker, told investigators that Ellison told him he'd been Baptized just a few days before the fire. Tucker also said Ellison had offered him Vicodin to ease his pain while at an away game in Chicago recently.

It was Tucker who first realized there was a fire in the apartment he shared with Ellison.

The defensive lineman for the Shock told investigators he first thought the smoke was from burning food. He even took the batteries out of the smoke detector in his bedroom before he realized the fire was coming from Ellison's room, Ahmed said. He alerted Ellison to the fire, but Ellison told him “I'm good.” and didn't leave.

Ellison escaped the fire by jumping from a window of the third-floor apartment. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage. Ahmed emphasized that children live next door to Ellison's apartment.

Ellison was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was released by the team following a May 2010 arrest in San Diego on a controlled-substance charge after police reportedly found 100 Vicodin tablets in his car without a prescription. The charges was dropped.

Ellison joined the Seattle Seahawks but was released shortly before the 2010 season opener.

4th suspect arrested in ‘09 home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a gunpoint home-invasion robbery that occurred nearly three years ago.

Travis J. Kulhavy, 28, is accused of robbing four people at a home in the 500 block of East Garland Avenue on Oct. 8, 2009.

Co-defendant Brian L. Gilliam, 28, was sentenced to five years in prison last week.

He and Maurice D. Lofton, 31, (pictured) who pleaded guilty in May 2010 to felony riot, helped police identify Kulhavy and Nicole A. Thompson, 21, as the final suspects in the robbery during interviews in late December and in January.

Thompson pleaded not guilty to the charges in May and is out of jail awaiting an August trial. Kulhavy had been wanted on a $150,000 warrant since May 3. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail Friday afternoon.

The incident began when a woman believed to be Thompson knocked on the front door and asked to use a telephone. Two men then appeared and one used a handgun to strike a man who exited the home and force him back inside. That man was forced to kneel down on the floor in an “execution-style position” as his wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape, according to court documents.

Three other people in the home also were restrained with duct tape and two were beaten with handguns. The robbers asked about drugs and money as they stole a duffel bag of marijuana, as well as cell phones, DVDs, a PlayStation and jewelry.

Police tracked one of the phones to the area of 200 E. Wedgewood Ave. the night of the robbery, where they arrested Gilliam and Lofton.

Gilliam described one of his accomplices as a woman named NIkki who had a tattoo that said “GD” and included a pitchfork.

Thompson showed detective Jeff Barrington that tattoo during an interview in March. “GD” is short for Gangster Disciple. Thompson told Barrington she was present during the robbery but “I did no harm. I didn't hurt no one. Travis did everything. All I did was get the door open,” according to court documents.

Kulhavy and Thompson are charged with four counts of first-degree robbery, four counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of second-degree assault and single counts of first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary.

Lofton was given the plea deal after the victim failed to identify him in a police lineup. He told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno at his sentencing that  “I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I was messing around with the wrong friends.” Read more here.

Shock player: God told me to start fire

A pro football player who leapt from his burning third-floor apartment in Liberty Lake Thursday said he started the blaze with a marijuana blunt because God told him to, authorities say.

 Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, a starting linebacker/defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, initially told firefighters that he’d been smoking in bed, but evidence collected at the scene didn’t match that explanation, said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller.

Read the rest of the story here.

Stoned-while driving case hangs, again

A second jury in nine months failed to agree Tuesday whether a Deer Park man’s marijuana use caused a fatal crash, highlighting the lack of accepted standards to determine when motorists should be considered too stoned to drive.

A Spokane County jury deliberated only about seven hours before announcing the impasse Tuesday in the vehicular homicide trial of Jonathon P. Bales, 22, who caused the fatal crash on July 26, 2010, that severed the leg and killed 54-year-old Rene Blaume.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 6: Driving while stoned is focus of trial

Sept. 21: Jury deadlocked in fatal scooter crash
  

Judge won’t reverse medical pot rulng

A judge has refused to reverse a decision about a marijuana search that local law enforcement says could hinder their ability to investigate pot cases.

U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen said Monday that his decision to prohibit prosecutors from using marijuana plants and other evidence seized during a sheriff's search of a northeast Spokane County home last November stands.

Spokane lawyer Richard Wall, who represents one of five men indicted by a federal grand jury on marijuana charges, had written a motion asking Nielsen to suppress the evidence because police did not consider the Washington Legislature's overhaul of medical marijuana laws when they obtained a search warrant for the home.

“In this case they simply just did what they'd always done,” Wall said.

The Legislature had rewritten the law to state that using, growing or distributing marijuana in compliance with medical marijuana laws was not crime. Before July, it had been an affirmative defense - law enforcement could arrest users and make them prove their case in court.

The request from the U.S. Attorney's Office to reconsider the decision reiterated their previous argument that legislators did not intend to change the law when they rewrote it.

“The Court concurs with the Government that “it is axiomatic that plain language is to be given plain meaning and enforced accordingly,”” Nielsen wrote.  “Reading “use” to exclude possession, delivery, or manufacture would be in contravention to the entirety of the statute. It is impossible to imagine a scenario where a person could use without possessing. 

Further, the statute clearly indicates exactly how much a person can manufacture under the statute, so clearly the drafters anticipated that manufacture, under specific circumstances described by the statute, also is not a crime. Additionally, the statute permits a person to manufacture the medical marijuana for another, thus the statute addresses delivery of medical marijuana.”

A drug detective said the case could prohibit them from investigating suspected marijuana grows because it's difficult to establish whether someone's obeying medical marijuana laws.

Past coverage:

Feb. 14: Grand jury indicts men in marijuana grow

Nov. 21: 'Judge Judy' to feature Spokane pot defendant

Ruling puts marijuana searches in limbo

A recent court ruling that deemed a drug raid illegal has raised questions about how law enforcement in Spokane County investigate marijuana growers.

Sheriff’s detectives had reason to believe marijuana was being grown at a northeast Spokane County home when they raided it Nov. 2, but they didn’t have reason to believe the growers were violating the state’s medical marijuana law – or at least they didn’t say they did when they got authorization from a local judge to search the home.

A federal judge ruled the search violated Washington’s recently expanded law governing medicinal marijuana and last week prohibited prosecutors from using marijuana plants and other items seized at the large grow house.

Now a federal grand jury indictment against five young men, two of whom have previous drug convictions, is in limbo, and drug detectives in Spokane are wondering how they’ll continue investigating marijuana growers.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 14: Grand jury indictments men in marijuana grow

Nov. 21: 'Judge Judy' to feature Spokane pot defendant

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