Judge dismisses pot growers’ corruption allegations against Mendocino law enforcement

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that accused law enforcement officials in Mendocino County of widespread marijuana theft, extortion, and corruption.

The lawsuit, which named a former sheriff and undersheriff, alleged “hundreds of acts of extortion, theft, and robbery of marijuana, guns and cash” by members of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Rohnert Park Police Department.

The plaintiffs said officers repeatedly used allegations of water violations to raid farms and seize legally-grown cannabis and jewelry. Evidence was never presented that the cannabis was destroyed, which made the plaintiffs believe it was stolen and sold for profit.

The plaintiffs' complaint “is larded with conclusory and speculative allegations that ‘are not entitled to the presumption of truth,’” said Judge Susan Illston in her 22-page ruling. For instance, there was no evidence that the confiscated cannabis was taken and sold. Property searches cited by the plaintiffs were also carried out with proper search warrants, she said.

Courthouse News Service notes that the plaintiffs had requested more time to present evidence of illegality.

“We believe the missing piece of the puzzle was how was the marijuana that was being taken from our clients and other growers — if it wasn’t being buried — what was happening to it? We believe we are able to identify at least one person associated with a warehouse who is storing the marijuana who associated with to other co-conspirators,” said attorney John Scott.

Through discovery and subpoenas, Scott said the plaintiffs’ team was confident it could get the evidence to back up their claims. The judge declined and tossed the suit.


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