MendoHealing, the medical cannabis farm in Fort Bragg, has drawn its last breath, dead of natural causes or murdered, depending.
David Moore began with a vision of a farm-direct medical cannabis cooperative that would give low income patients quality medicine at half-price. Instead, as a County prisoner in leg chains on an extraordinary no-bail-hold for a probation violation Moore has received a plea offer from deputy DA Lee Nerli for up to a year in the County Jail and dismissal of the cases against the other four defendants.
A bail hearing was set for February 19th before retired Judge Smith. Defense counsel David Eyster argued that even murderers get bail. Eyster cited the locally infamous Diaz case involving the vice-president of Vallejo Hell's Angels who was accused of murdering a Fort Bragg family, children first, decapitating them, and setting their house on fire. His bail was set at a mere $100,000 paltry considering the monstrous accusations.
Eyster argued that David Moore had no violence on his record and had previously pled to felony cultivation in 2005 case for which he was sentenced to a sheriff's work program and three years probation. Which he duly served. So why no bail?
Moore's understanding was that MendoHealing, under its new ownership, was allowed to grow for medical purposes; Moore was merely an advisor living in San Francisco where he worked for O'Shaughnessy's Journal. MendoHealing's new president, Jean Marie Todd, was in charge of the Fort Bragg farm and garden. The January 2009 raid came as a result of Moore visiting Todd at her residence on the farm. He'd thought that he had permission from his probation supervision to visit, although not in writing. He also knew about the famous Tilehkooh Appeals Court precedent which allows patients to use their medicine while on probation.
Judge Smith initially granted bail at $15,000 which seemed to unhinge deputy DA Nerli who screamed at the judge, “I can't believe you did this! You can't do this. You didn't even ask for the probation officer's report...Our position and probation's position is no bail.”
Judge Smith asked if the probation officer was present when he should have cited Nerli for contempt and had him hauled out to Low Gap by a bailiff. But...
The probation officer was sitting in the front of the courtroom waiting to give his report. He calmly told the judge, “He's (Moore) is complying; he checks in all the time; he sent letters around to relevant agencies telling them what he was doing...I'm neutral.”
There is also the issue of Moore's earlier request for early probation release. He was granted a hearing which was continued for more information. But the prosecutor told Judge Smith that Moore's motion for early release was denied, a flat out fabrication. Visiting judge was confused. He didn't know anything about the case and “didn't want to be caught releasing another Bonnie and Clyde,” as Eyster errantly put it. Judge Smith rescinded his bail ruling and the case was continued until the next day.
The next day, February 20, Judge Nelson, who'd presided over Moore's '05 case threw the proverbial book at Moore. He described the '05 case as big league commerce with multiple employees and the violation of probation as a serious violation not a “technicality.”
A day or two later came the plea. Moore was offered six months County Jail time for violating probation and six more months jail for his new case involving 700 plants for 600 bona fide cannabis patients with doctors' approvals in a cooperative arrangement with a San Francisco dispensary.
It was expected that Moore would accept the plea in exchange for dismissal of all charges against his four co-defendants. When he came to court March 17 for a plea hearing, another surprise awaited. It appears that the plea of one year in County Jail and three years probation was not authorized by DA Lintott; prosecutor Nerli was asking the court for a continuance to allow Lintott to do her own investigation of MendoHealing. Eyster was heard saying, “What, how could they offer a plea that wasn't authorized?”
Because Lintott's deputies do deals behind the boss's back on a regular basis. Then she trundles out to public forum somewhere in the County to take back what one or another of her deputies has done.
Early in 2008, Lintott went before the Board of Supes to announce that one of her deputies had erroneously presented a motion to the court to deny a Prop 215 defense in a routine medical cannabis case and that that was not the position of her office.
She recently fired Matt Finnegan for a complaint he filed criticizing Lintott and her preferred top deputies, all women, for using County cars for their commutes. The Lintott regime is rife with incompetence, in-house sniping, an astronomical 10-1 increase in marijuana prosecutions from the Vroman-Craver era, and even what seems to be a hostile force of deputies who appear to be doing things to publicly discredit her.
Lee Nerli, who offered the plea to Moore, is known as the deputy DA who publicly says that he believes “all medical marijuana is a scam.” David Moore seems to be a scapegoat for Nerli's dual hostilities for medical marijuana and his boss. Is there a better explanation for why he would offer an unauthorized plea?
One of the casualties of the MendoHealing take-down is the arrest and prosecution of Jean Marie Todd, former science and health editor of Bloomberg News. She left her decade-long job as reporter to serve as president of MendoHealing Co-op. As someone who does not use cannabis herself, her involvement was based on learning the science and its beneficial medical effects after attending a Patients Out of Time conference in 2007, where she met Moore and signed onto MendoHealing. After researching the law and the job, she agreed to take on the new cultivation project and oversee organization of the enterprise.
In an interview with Ms. Todd, 51, a soft-spoken articulate woman with a stoic streak, raised straight-laced Mormon in Utah, she alternated between sighing and crying.
“We were doing this in good faith. We did everything we could to do it right, to be in compliance. Our patients are real people with real needs. I signed them up. Many are elderly and very poor. They are no longer being served by us. There were three families working peacefully here who are now out of work and can no longer afford the rent. It was a total economic loss. What has the County gained?”
At the end of the raid, Jean Marie asked one of the deputies “What happened to Obama's order not to interfere in the states?”
The deputy replied, “That message hasn't reached us.”