JUN 6 -- OAKLAND - Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Acting Special Agent in Charge Diane Carter and United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that several days ago, an information was filed in Oakland Federal Court charging Shon Matthew SQUIER and Valerie Lynn HERSCHEL with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, the cultivation and distribution of marijuana and money laundering. These charges are the result of an investigation by the DEA and IRS-CI.
According to the information filed June 1, 2007, Squier, 34, and Herschel, 23, both of Hayward, are alleged to have conspired to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Furthermore, between September and December 2006, Squier and Herschel allegedly possessed and distributed marijuana out of Local Patients Cooperative, a Marijuana Distribution Center, located at 22612-22630 Foothill Boulevard, Hayward, CA. In addition, Squier was charged with three counts of money laundering for payments made for the purchase of his residence and a pick up truck which totaled $617,307. Herschel was charged with one count of money laundering for the down payment for a residence, in the amount of $85,853.
On December 12, 2006, Squier and Herschel were arrested on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and the distribution of marijuana. In addition to the arrests, special agents executed five federal search warrants at the following locations: the Local Patients Cooperative facility located on Foothill Blvd., two associated residences in Hayward, and two cars.
As a result of the searches law enforcement seized indoor marijuana grows, hundreds of marijuana plants, marijuana laced cookies, brownies, popcorn, pies, candy, two inert grenades, U.S. Currency and several high value vehicles including a Mercedes, Hummer, Cadillac Escalade, Volvo, Dodge Truck, Harley Davidson and Ducati Motorcycles.
According to the criminal complaint, the Hayward Local Patents Cooperative attempts to disguise the breadth of its criminal activity by claiming that it caters exclusively to persons suffering from medical illnesses, when in fact persons without any medical condition can purchase marijuana at the retail establishment. During a recent inspection by Hayward Police Department, officers saw over 200 pounds of marijuana at the location as well as numerous marijuana plants.
The DEA and IRS began this investigation approximately a year and a half ago. Throughout the investigation agents learned that Squier was allegedly the owner of the marijuana distribution center, while Herschel allegedly acted as a manager. Furthermore, agents received information that Local Patients Cooperative allegedly operated a sophisticated indoor marijuana grow with multiple grow rooms, had hundreds of pounds of processed marijuana on hand, along with a variety of marijuana for sale and also offered miscellaneous items such as edibles, hash, kief, cookies, brownies and oils. Court documents revealed that on multiple occasions, law enforcement observed between 20-30 males, approximately 20-40 years of age, entering the distribution center and each departing with a small white bag with the word “Prescription” on it. The complaint also alleges that the men entered the establishment unassisted and appeared to be healthy. Furthermore, agents have observed individuals believed to be uniformed security personnel around the perimeter of the building and at the entrance of the business.
The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and the distribution of marijuana charges, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section 846 and 21 U.S.C. Section 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B)(vii) is five years, with a maximum of not more than 40 years, a $2,000,000 fine, a four year term of supervised release. The maximum statutory penalty for managing or controlling a place for unlawfully manufacturing, storing and distributing of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section 856(a)(2) is 20 years imprisonment, a $2,000,000 fine and three years supervised release. The maximum statutory penalty for money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1957(a) is 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine (or twice the amount involved in the transaction), and three years of supervised release. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. Section 3553.
An information contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Squier and Herschel must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shashi Kewalramani with the assistance of Legal Assistant Cynthia Daniel. The prosecution is the result of a year and a half long investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS-Criminal Investigation.