Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Owners of Two West Hollywood Marijuana Dispensaries Indicted
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The owners and operators of four marijuana dispensaries, including two in West Hollywood, were indicted yesterday on charges they conspired to distribute and distributed large quantities of marijuana, including to minors, for significant profits, prosecutors said.
Also indicted was a medical doctor who is accused of writing marijuana recommendations for payment including recommendations for minors with no medical examinations.
In 1996, voters in California adopted Proposition 215, which authorizes the distribution of “medical marijuana” in certain circumstances, with a doctor’s recommendation. Under federal law, however, distribution of marijuana for any purpose is illegal.
Among those indicted were Larry R. Kristich and James Carberry, identified as the operators of a chain of marijuana stores called “Compassionate Caregivers,” located in Oakland, San Francisco, San Leandro, Ukiah, Bakersfield, San Diego and West Hollywood.
Prosecutors said sales of marijuana and THC-laced products at the stores totaled more than $95 million, and that Kristich used profits from marijuana sales to purchase expensive automobiles and real estate in Costa Rica. Kristich and a business associate, James L. Ealy, allegedly set up non-drug-related businesses to launder the profits of the marijuana stores.
Carberry also allegedly managed a marijuana store in West Hollywood known as “Yellow House.” Yellow House allegedly had an ATM machine and credit card readers in the store to facilitate purchases totaling more than $1.7 million in a single month.
Charles C. Lynch is charged with having owned and operated “Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers” in Morro Bay, where he and his employees allegedly sold more than $2.1 million in marijuana in a one-year time period. During that year, prosecutors charge, Lynch and his employees sold marijuana to 281 minors.
Also charged in the indictment is Dr. Armand T. Tollette Jr., who allegedly wrote marijuana recommendations for patrons of the Morro Bay marijuana store. Tollete allegedly paid “finder’s fees” in marijuana for client referrals.
In a separate indictment, John C. Moreaux, a former “Compassionate Caregivers” employee, was indicted for operating a second marijuana store in West Hollywood and for possessing a firearm inside the store, which he is prohibited from doing as a convicted felon.
Another indictment charges Ronald B. Naulls, who operated the “Healing Nations Collective” marijuana store in a shopping center in Corona, with selling more than $1.2 million in marijuana in a nine-month period. .
Under federal law, prosecutors noted, conspiracy to distribute marijuana carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison, while a violation of the money-laundering statute carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company