Business Man by Luke Scarmazzo
The USA Hemp Museum works to free hemp political prisoners, of which its founder, Richard M. Davis, has been one of them. It is with sadness that we are still dealing with people going to jail for interacting with nature.
If the medical marijuana providers were selling medicines that kill people, like Medicine, Inc. does every day, they would not be in jail.
We've reported on Luke Scarmazzo . He and his partner Ricardo Montes are looking at up to 30 years for have medical marijuana clinics in California, where folks have voted in Prop 215 a dozen years ago.
Safe Access Now reports:
August 11, 2008 -- Luke Scarmazzo & Ricardo Montes (California Healthcare Collective)
Motion for a New Trial & Sentencing Hearing at 1:30pm before Judge Oliver Wanger in U.S. District Court (E.D., CA), 2500 Tulare Street, Fresno, CA.
After the City of Modesto failed to shut down the California Healthcare Collective by banning dispensaries, it called in the DEA. On September 27, 2006, the DEA raided the collective and arrested four people (owner-operators Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes and two staff members) on charges of distribution of marijuana and conspiracy to distribute. Scarmazzo and Montes were also charged with possession of firearms and money laundering. Later, an additional five people were indicted, totalling nine who were being prosecuted by the federal government.
In the raid, the DEA allegedly seized more than 100 pounds of marijuana, one thousand plants, multiple firearms, and more than $200,000 in cash.
The raids were the result of a 15-month investigation between the DEA and the Modesto Police Department. In 2007 and early 2008, Stephen DeMattos's case was dismissed in the interest of justice, Bradley Heinmiller and Bradley Wickliffe pled guilty, while the other six defendants (Scarmazzo, Montes, Monica Valencia, Lucky Boissiere, Jose Malagon, and Antonio Malagon) remained to stand trial. After a special hearing, Judge Wanger decided to allow the prosecution to play the "Businessman" music video in front of the jury during the trial.
On April 27, 2008, the day before the trial was scheduled to commence, Boissiere, Valencia, and the Malagon brothers accepted plea bargains. Boissiere & Valencia pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and the Malagon brothers pled guilty to conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Boissiere and the Malagon brothers agreed to testify against Scarmazzo & Montes, joining Heinmiller & DeMattos. Valencia refused to testify for the government, turning down the reduced plea bargain deal she was offered as an incentive.
At the trial, Scarmazzo took the stand, and was able to present evidence of medical marijuana but it was to no avail, and on May 15, 2008, the jury returned its verdicts. While the jurors had deadlocked on the conspiracy counts and acquitted on the firearms counts, they delivered a grand total of eight guilty verdicts against the defendants, including a conviction for continuing criminal enterprise, which puts Scarmazzo and Montes at risk of life imprisonment.
At the end the trial, both defendants were literally wrested out of the arms of their families and taken into the custody of U.S. Marshals because of the severity of the penalties. Several jurors, upon learning the severity of the possible penalties, expressed reservations about their votes to convict and the legitimacy of medical marijuana prosecutions. Prosecutors have already successfully seized $200,000 and are seeking $9.2 million in forfeiture. For more information, please see the consistently excellent Vanessa Nelson.
60 MINUTES ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA PT. 1
60 MINUTES ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA PT. 2
From 420 Magazine a letter from Luke Scarmazzo's courageous wife DeVina.
Federal Sentence Reduction For Luke Scarmazzo & Richardo Montes Medical Marijuana...
Hello fellow supporters, my name is DeVina Scarmazzo. On May 15th 2008, the Federal Government sentenced My husband Luke Scarmazzo and our dear friend Richardo Montes to 30 years in a federal prison for operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise and Manufacturing, Distribution and Cultivation of Marijuana.
From 2004-2006 in Modesto California they opened and managed a medical marijuana dispensary by the name of California Healthcare Collective. Mr. Scarmazzo and Mr. Montes consulted and retained the services of Corporate Attorney for the sole purpose of opening and operating the business legally and professionally. Per California State Law, a Medical Marijuana Dispensary is legal under Proposition 215.
The City of Modesto approved a business license for the Dispensary. In addition, Mr. Montes and Mr. Scarmazzo opened business bank accounts with Wells Fargo, hired Certified Public Accountants for bookkeeping, and paid their employees through a payroll service. They were responsible and kept thorough records and receipts for everything pertaining to the business.
They were upstanding and paid the City of Modesto, State of California as well as our Federal Government taxes, in the neighborhood of 2 million dollars annually. Under California State Law, these men and the Dispensary was an above-board business.
On September 27 2006, after a 16 month sting operation, DEA Agents raided the Dispensary, and all homes in connection to CHC. Mr. Scarmazzo and Mr. Montes were arrested, as were many employees of the Dispensary. Many of whom accepted pleas deals, in return for testimony against these men. They were accused of seven charges, each carrying a 20 year sentence, with a possible total of 140 potential years in prison. The reason for the abrupt closing of the business is because, unlike California State Law, the Federal Law says Medical Marijuana Dispensary's are illegal.
The reason that Mr. Scarmazzo and Mr. Montes faced such a large amount of time is because Marijuana is considered a Class One Drug by the Federal Government.
Marijuana is grouped into the same category as Crack, Heroin, PCP and Methamphetamine by the Federal Government, because they claim that Marijuana has the same effects as the above listed drugs, and no medical value. Federal prison time requires the sentenced to serve every day of their time, with no options for early release or time off for good behavior.
The arrest and trial of Mr. Scarmazzo and Mr. Montes has been controversial due to California State Law legally allowing a Medical Marijuana Dispensary, while being illegal per the Federal Law. US Federal Law trumps any State Laws when a trial is held. While that is a fact, there are many other facts that have been intentionally withheld by the Federal Government. While the Government does not want these facts publicized, it is crucial that all the citizens of California know their rights have been severely violated. Listed below are some interesting and relevant facts that were not discussed or acknowledged in regards to the trial.
1. THE PROSECUTION WAS EXPLICIT IN THEIR ARGUMENT THAT CALIFORNIA'S STATE LAWS ARE IRRELEVANT IN THIS CASE. ESSENTIALLY, THERE WAS NO OPPORTUNITY OR PERMISSION FOR THE DEFENSE TO INTRODUCE ALL THE LEGITIMATE BUSINESS DONE UNDER CALIFORNIA STATE LAW.
2. THERE WAS NO MENTION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA ALLOWED DURING TRIAL.
3. THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY'S WERE NOT PERMITTED TO REVEAL TO THE JURY THE AMOUNT OF YEARS PER CHARGE. THAT KEY PIECE OF INFORMATION WAS WITHHELD, SO THE JURY WOULD MAKE THEIR GUILTY VERDICT WITHOUT FEELING REMORSE FOR POTENTIALLY SENTENCING THESE MEN TO LIFE IN PRISON.
4. ON DAY 2 OF DELIBERATIONS, A JUROR WAS REPLACED WITH AN ALTERNATE FOR ADMITTING HE WAS PRO MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND COULD NEVER FIND THESE MEN GUILTY.
5. THE JURY WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT THESE MEN WOULD SERVE APPROXIMATELY 1 YEAR IN PRISON, WITH PROBATION FOLLOWING.
6. SEVERAL OF THE JURORS "FELT PRESSURED BY THE PROSECUTION AND COURT TO RETURN A GUILTY VERDICT"
7. UNDERCOVER DEA AGENTS OBTAINED MEDICAL MARIJUANA PRESCRIPTIONS FROM VERIFIED PHYSICIANS, ALLOWING THEM TO POSE AS CUSTOMERS OF THE COLLECTIVE.
8. THERE ARE CURRENTLY SEVERAL HUNDRED STATEWIDE MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES OPEN AND OPERATING THROUGHOUT CALIFORNIA, MANY OF WHICH HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR UPWARDS OF 9 YEARS.
9. IN 2002, THE 9TH CIRCUIT COURT APPEALS DECIDED TO UPHOLD THE RIGHT OF DOCTORS TO RECOMMEND MARIJUANA TO THEIR PATIENTS, AND OF THE PATIENTS TO RECEIVE THAT RECOMMENDATION.
10. IN 1978 THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROVIDED 9 PEOPLE (ONLY 4 ARE ALIVE TODAY) WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA AFTER A MEDICAL NECESSITY DEFENSE WAS RECOGNIZED IN COURT. THIS RECOGNITION CREATED THE INVESTIGATIONAL NEW DRUG COMPASSIONATE ACCESS PROGRAM (IND PROGRAM). THIS PROGRAM WAS CLOSED TO NEW PATIENTS IN 1992 DUE TO A FLOOD OF AIDS PATIENTS WHO WERE INTERESTED IN BEING A PART OF IND.
THE PEOPLE WHO STILL RECEIVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA FROM OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ARE:
IRVIN ROSENFELD RECEIVING 600 PRE ROLLED MARIJUANA JOINTS MONTHLY SINCE 1982
GEORGE MCMAHON RECEIVING 320 PRE ROLLED MARIJUANA JOINTS MONTHLY SINCE 1990
ELVY MUSIKKA RECEIVING 320 PER ROLLED MARIJUANA JOINTS MONTHLY SINCE 1988
BARBARA DOUGLAS RECEIVING 360 PRE ROLLED MARIJUANA JOINTS MONTHLY SINCE 1991
THE FEDERAL MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM MARKED ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY MAY 10TH, 5 DAYS BEFORE LUKE AND RICHARDO WERE SENTENCED. THE SAME GOVERNMENT THAT STARTED THIS PROGRAM AND HAS RECOGNIZED MARIJUANA'S MEDICAL AFFECTS, IS THE SAME AUTHORITY WHO SENTENCED Mr. SCARMAZZO AND MR. MONTES TO 30 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON.
THE PURPOSE OF THESE ABOVE FACTS IS TO INFORM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA OF THE TRUTHS FROM AN UNBIASED STAND. ALL OF THESE FACTS HAVE BEEN WITHHELD FROM THE PUBLIC FOR A REASON. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS ADAMANT IN THEIR PURSUIT TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF THESE MEN, AT ANY COST. THEY WERE DISHONEST, EVASIVE AND CAREFUL IN CONDUCTING THEIR STING AND TRIAL. THE TRIAL WAS COMPLETELY IN FAVOR OF THE PROSECUTION, BEFORE IT EVER GOT UNDERWAY. A FAIR TRIAL WAS NOT GIVEN TO THESE MEN. THIS IS A MULTI-FACETED ISSUE AND IT IS DISARMING ON MANY LEVELS."
Medical Marijuana of America, a place for medicinal cannabis friends... - Wednesday, August 13 2008