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Release No. 08-070
May 27, 2008
THREE INDICTED IN RELATION TO SIX LOS ANGELES-AREA MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES, INCLUDING ONE THAT SOLD DRUG TO MAN WHO CRASHED INTO C.H.P. OFFICER WHILE INTOXICATED
The owner-operator of six Los Angeles-area “medical marijuana” dispensaries and his wife were arrested this morning on a host of federal charges, including operating dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools and churches. Authorities are seeking a third defendant, an employee who allegedly sold a pound of pot out the back door of one of the dispensaries
One of the dispensaries, The Holistic Caregivers (THC) in Compton, is linked to an car accident in December in which a man who had consumed various THC products smashed into a California Highway Patrol officer who was conducting a traffic stop in Ventura County. The driver of the stopped vehicle was killed and the CHP officer remains paralyzed.
The two defendants arrested this morning are:
Virgil Edward Grant III, 41, of Carson; and
Grant’s wife, Psytra Monique Grant, 33, also of Carson.
The Grants are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
The third defendant named in the indictment is THC employee Stanley Jerome Cole, 39.
The Grants and Cole were named in a 41-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles last Tuesday.
The investigation into three THC outlets in Compton, Gardena and Los Angeles, as well as Western Caregiver Group in Los Angeles, MedXnow.com in Los Angeles and Southern California Caregivers in Van Nuys, started after a horrific accident in which a CHP officer was critically injured and the driver he had stopped was killed.
On December 19, 2007, CHP Officer Anthony Pedeferri was conducting a routine traffic stop on the shoulder of Highway 101 near Faria Beach, just north of the City of Ventura. Officer Pedeferri was speaking to driver Andreas Parra at the driver’s side window of Parra’s car when a pick-up truck drifted onto the shoulder and struck Parra’s vehicle. Parra was killed, and Pedeferri was gravely injured. He remains paralyzed.
The pick-up truck was driven by Jeremy White, who is currently being prosecuted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The investigation revealed a large amount of marijuana and marijuana edibles in White’s vehicle. According to search warrants filed in federal court, in his post-arrest statement, White acknowledged being under the influence of marijuana when the accident took place, saying he had purchased the marijuana from a “medical marijuana” dispensary in Compton.
After meeting with local investigators in Ventura County, federal investigators determined that White had purchased the marijuana from THC in Compton. After a number of undercover buys at several of Grant’s dispensaries – including a $5,700, one-pound transaction facilitated by Cole – the grand jury indicted the Grants and Cole.
The marijuana dispensaries involved in this case claim to operate in accordance with California’s “medical marijuana” law, Proposition 215, and an implementing statute, Senate Bill 420. However, neither law describes dispensaries, and Senate Bill 420 specifically prohibits the cultivation and sale of marijuana for profit.
“This case demonstrates the harm that can occur when individuals seek to line their pockets while operating under the guise of California’s medical marijuana laws,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “The dispensaries involved in this case were simply drug-dealing enterprises designed to generate profits for those who chose to ignore federal law and flout state law. The tragic accident that killed Andreas Parra and crippled CHP Officer Pedeferri can be directly linked to this disregard of the laws.”
Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Los Angeles, stated: “The consequences of marijuana use extend far beyond those who abuse and traffic the drug. The individuals arrested today claimed to sell marijuana for medicinal use, but it is clear that they are nothing more than drug traffickers. DEA is committed to enforcing federal laws that exist to prevent similar tragedies like this one from occurring in the future.”
Virgil Grant is charged with one drug conspiracy count, four counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school and four counts of maintaining a drug-involved premises within 1,000 feet of a school, each of which carries a 40-year statutory maximum sentence (and a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the conspiracy count). He is also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering conspiracy and six counts of money laundering, each of which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years.
Pshyra Grant is charged in the drug conspiracy count (40-year statutory maximum sentence; 5-year mandatory minimum), as well as the money laundering conspiracy charge and six counts of money laundering. She is also charged with 22 counts of money laundering to avoid the $10,000 federal cash-transaction reporting requirement, each of which carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
Cole is charged in the drug conspiracy count and one count of distributing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, which has a 10-year statutory maximum penalty.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.
Debra D. King, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office, stated: “The indictment of Virgil Grant, Pshyra Grant, and Stan Cole on narcotics trafficking, money laundering and asset forfeiture charges is the result of a highly successful multi-agency investigation into the Grant’s marijuana trafficking operation. The investigation resulted in not only criminal narcotics and money laundering charges, but also asset forfeiture charges. IRS-Criminal Investigation plays a unique role in federal law enforcement’s counter-drug effort in that we target the profit and financial gains of drug traffickers. IRS-Criminal Investigation specializes in following the money in illegal narcotic operations, enabling increased criminal prosecutions and asset forfeitures as a result.”
This case is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS-Criminal Investigation.
Release No. 08-070
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