www.friendsofccl.comContact: Reuven Cohen Cel: (805) 801-0380 For Immediate Release: DIRTY SHERIFF? Citizen Complaint against Sheriff Hedges Demands Investigation into Misconduct January 19, 2009 – San Luis Obispo, CA.
Sheriff Patrick Hedges’ involvement in the Charles C. Lynch medical marijuana case sparks a citizen complaint regarding possible misconduct. Lynch, the former operator of the Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers (CCCC), faces up to 100 years in federal prison. Federal Judge George H. Wu scheduled Lynch’s Sentencing for Monday February 23, 2009 at 8:30 a.m.
The complaint alleges Hedges wasted untold amounts of California tax-payers’ money, beginning in March 2006 to present, to subvert California State law in favor of his own political agenda. Stacey Warde, publisher of the Rogue Voice, urges oversight by citizens and the press.
"There's no question in my mind that the sheriff overstepped his authority,” says Warde, “that requires careful monitoring by the media and
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Hedges purportedly authorized his narcotic deputies to investigate Lynch, his employees, his patients and the medical cannabis location for nearly a year.
Deputies took still photos, video footage, followed individuals, wrote down license plate numbers, went undercover with doctors’ recommendation to use medical marijuana, and eventually raided, arrested and testified against Lynch. They also took patients’ private records which were made into public record during the federal trial. All of this was done on California tax-payers’ dime.
After nearly a year of investigations the Sheriff did not get a state search warrant for Lynch because the department did not have enough evidence to convince a local judge of any wrong doing by Lynch. So Hedges called the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in to raid Lynch’s home and dispensary on March 29, 2007.
Both law-enforcement groups dressed in masks, shields, bullet proof vest and automatic weapons violently used paramilitary-style tactics against unarmed medical marijuana patients. They forced Lynch to the ground naked at his home and terrorized his employees at his dispensary.
On Sept 12, 2005, Lynch called the DEA before opening his dispensary. The DEA agent told Lynch, “It’s up to the city and county to decide how to handle that [medical marijuana dispensary] matter.” So Lynch worked closely with city and county officials.
The jury selection process in Lynch’s trial took longer than expected. Even though five deputies drove from SLO to Los Angeles, their testimony got delayed by a day. According to Cheryl Aichele, a medical marijuana patient who observed most of Lynch’s trial, the sheriff deputies showed utter disregard for the resources they wasted in their participation in this matter.
“‘We’re getting paid to be here anyway’ was their response.” says Aichele, “That flagrant comment seemed to be indicative of their attitude towards squandering the people’s money throughout Charlie’s whole legal situation.”
Aichele’s Citizen’s Complaint asserts the sheriff’s department used paid-criminal informants to go undercover to attempt to get evidence of Lynch’s wrong doing. SLO County Sheriff Deputy Nick A. Fontecchio gave an anonymous snitch his marijuana back after an undercover operation even though they were investigating marijuana violations.
Lynch’s other patients, who later wanted their confiscated medical marijuana back, would have to pay lawyers and get a judge’s order to get their medicine back from the Sheriff’s office after the raid instigated against Lynch.
Bodine Jones, Lynch’s mother, contacted California State Attorney General Jerry Brown to ask for an investigation into Hedges and his involvement in this grotesque miscarriage of justice. Brown’s office told Jones an investigation would have to start on the local level.
Warde contacted the SLO County Supervisors. They indicated that they did not have any jurisdiction or regulatory powers over the sheriff. Their only role is to vote on the sheriff’s department’s budget. Warde also made a freedom-of-information request for an account of the resources wasted during this investigation. The sheriff’s department denied his request because the department considers the Lynch case as ongoing.
Concerned citizen interested in an investigation should file their own complaints via the sheriff’s website: www.slosheriff.org. The sheriff’s department has to keep these complaints on file for five years and the law requires them to look into all complaints in good faith.
The Sheriff’s job is an elected position which makes him accountable to the voters. Citizens also have the ability to recall the sheriff if they feel his conduct warrants such actions.
Friends of Charles C. Lynch will demonstrate against the injustice of federal medical marijuana laws in California cases at noon on Monday February 23, 2009 on the Main Street side of the Federal Courthouse at 312 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles.
Lynch’s case gained national attention after Reason foundation’s the Drew Carey’s Project created a Reason.tv episode featuring Lynch and Owen Beck, a former seventeen year old student athlete who had his leg amputated to keep his bone cancer from spreading.
Al Roker interviewed Lynch for a MSNBC showed called “An Hour on Marijuana” scheduled to air in the coming weeks. In addition, John Stossel from ABC’s 20/20 for an episode called “Bullsh*t in America” scheduled to air Feb 9th or 16th at 10pm eastern standard time.
If you would like more information about this case, or to schedule an interview with Charles C. Lynch or others, please call Reuven Cohen at (805) 801-0380.