Medical Pot Dealer Smoking Hot at Police
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. (CN) - A medical marijuana dealer claims in court that police ruined his businesses, took his money, seized his attorney's computer, and carried their harassment so far they dumped his mother-in-law's ashes from an urn while busting his legal pot delivery service.
William Crosby sued Mono County, its District Attorney Timothy Kendall, Mammoth Lakes, and its police Officers Seth Clark, Paul Robles and Rick Moberly, in Mono County Court.
Crosby claims that after voters of the tiny Sierra hamlet of Mammoth Lakes passed Measure M, legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits, he sat down with city leaders and the chief of police to craft the ordinance.
He says city officials assured him that his medical pot delivery service complied with the new law.
Crosby says in his complaint that he explained to the officials that his delivery service was more desirable than a storefront dispensary, since delivery assured the anonymity of his customers and prevented tourists from abusing medicinal marijuana laws for recreational purposes.
Crosby claims that he did not think he needed a permit under the town's new law, because the chief of police told him he had no problem with the business so long as Crosby stayed within the guidelines.
But in December 2010, Crosby says, the defendants obtained warrants to search his vehicle and home for evidence of criminal drug possession. He claims their intention was "to intimidate and silence [him] from continuing to be a strong advocate for the rights of qualified medical marijuana users and growers in the community."
On Dec. 28, 2010, Crosby says, Officer Clark, dressed in plainclothes and driving an unmarked car, pulled him over. He says Clark served him with the search warrants and searched him and his car.
Crosby says Clark seized a briefcase with his business's medical records, his cell phone, $1,041 in a zippered bank bag, $138 from Crosby's own wallet, and less than 2 ounces of marijuana. When Crosby showed Clark his county-issued State of California medical marijuana ID card, which entitles him to carry that amount of pot, Clark arrested him without reading him his rights or allowing him to call his attorney, according to the complaint.
With Crosby under arrest, defendant Officers Robles and Moberly searched his home. They seized personal bank documents, his and his wife's computers, flash drives, more patient records, $8,300 in cash, personal files and tax records, real estate forms, 56 pot plants and growing supplies, says Crosby, who adds they weren't polite about it.
"In the course of searching plaintiff's home, defendants ransacked the property. They caused substantial damage to three rooms in the process of removing marijuana plants. They seized growing equipment by carelessly severing electrical cords, creating a fire hazard. They showed no regard for the personal effects of plaintiff's family. They sifted through and spilled the ashes of plaintiff's deceased mother-in-law," according to the complaint.
The next day, Crosby says, they searched his attorney's office and seized a computer. And on Jan. 14, 2011 the defendants seized two of his bank accounts and accounts held by his wife and stepson. Crosby claims the actions left him unable to pay his bills and resulted in the involuntary closure of his wife and stepson's accounts.
Crosby says he was never arraigned after his arrest, and charges against him were dropped because District Attorney Kendall never showed up for the hearings. Then, Crosby says, the defendants smeared him in the media.
"On or about Jan. 14, 2011, defendants caused to be published, in two local newspapers and on news websites, false statements that: (1) plaintiff had sold marijuana outside the cooperative and in violation of state medical marijuana guidelines; and (2) that plaintiff had been formally charged with crimes in connection with such alleged conduct. Defendants also caused publication of plaintiff's mug shot in conjunction with the mug shots of a group of other criminal suspects, having no relation whatsoever to plaintiff. The effect of this publication was to create the incorrect impression that plaintiff was involved in illegal activities as part of the group, including selling cocaine and dealing in forged DVDs," Crosby states in the complaint.
Crosby claims he lost his job as a Realtor because of the stories. And he says that despite repeated requests and the fact that the defendants never charged him with any crime, they never returned his impounded property.
Crosby previously sued the same defendants in Federal Court. In his new complaint, he acknowledges that that lawsuit, based on the same causes of action, was dismissed with prejudice in June.
Crosby says he forgot to show up for a hearing.
He is represented by John Manzano with Minaret Legal Services, of Mammoth Lakes.