Money Seized from Medical Marijuana Operation
Medical Marijuana is on the rise. Almost every state is open to, or has accepted the selling of medical marijuana.
San Diego County District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis has now been ordered to return more than $100,000 that was seized from a medical marijuana businessman and his family. This is 15 months after the drugs agents raided the man’s company and didn’t charge anyone with a crime.
After almost 6 weeks after the lawyers that represented James Slatic argued that the money should be returned, Superior Court Judge, Tamila E. Ipema made the order.
Judge’s Written Statement:
Investigations have been ongoing since January 2016 and there is no indication … that criminal charges are going to be filed in this case in the near future.
According to the reports, Dumanis has used state and federal civil asset-forfeiture rules for quite some time to steal millions of dollars from drug suspects. Which is probably a good thing if they’re true criminals they need caught and punished by law.
Steve Walker’s Statement:
The investigation remains under review for potential criminal charges, therefore the district attorney’s office is not able to discuss the facts, the status of that review or any evidence related to it. The funds ordered returned by a civil judge last week were previously found by a criminal judge to be tainted by criminal conduct, and we are reviewing the court transcript from the … hearing in March to explore further options.
Slatic’s (Businiess Owner) Statement:
It’s about time. We did nothing wrong. My business operated openly and legally for more than two years; we paid taxes and had a retirement program for our 35 employees. No one broke any laws, but the district attorney swooped in and took everything from me and my family, even though they had no connection to my business. Our lives were turned upside down. It felt like we were robbed — by the police.
In late January 2016, the family owned business had a scary awakening. Drug agents used sledgehammers to break open the front door of the Med-West Distribution company. Mid-West is a firm that supplied several medical marijuana shops with cannabis oils used for vaping as well as marijuana-laced edibles, topical creams and other products.
The drug agents seized all of the supplies as well as the business reports and just over $324,000 in cash. There was a separate forfeiture proceeding for those funds that is ongoing at this time. The agents also managed to arrest two of the employees on duty inside of the building, even though there were no criminal charges filed.
Since there were no criminal charges filed, it’s questionable why they investigated and took his personal money. Days after they searched his business they froze Slatic’s personal bank account. They even checked his wife’s accounts as well as his two step daughters, claiming that the money was from illegal drug profits. From Slatic’s account there was $55,00 taken, $34,000 from his wife’s account and more than $5,000 each from the two daughters. It was “formally” seized just a few months after.
During the hearings a judge ruled that the money should be returned because the money taken from the family wasn’t part of the Med-West Distribution. However, one could argue that there was probable cause for the prosecutors to pursue a criminal case against the company to prove that the funds actually were derived from “criminal activity”.
Almost a year after the criminal charges weren’t filed the Slatic legal team began working on trying to secure their family money back. However, the district attorney’s office opposed the motion. They said that the prosecutors had a year from the day that the money was formally seized. Talk about the tiny details. That would mean that the prosecutors had until June to decide on charges.
However, one could argue that they had no right to hold the claimant’s money at all since they didn’t file any charges against them.
According to California Law, law enforcement officials can not hold the suspects seized cash or property that is valued at less than $40,000 in federal cases without getting a criminal conviction.
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