Pubdate: Sat, 9 Aug 2008
Source: Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Will Bigham, Staff Writer
Cited: Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Insists Battery Claim Unfounded

RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A medical-marijuana advocate facing battery charges
for allegedly shoving an anti-drug activist refused a plea offer from
prosecutors Friday that would have reduced his charge to an infraction.

Palm Springs resident Lanny Swerdlow, 62, was arrested on suspicion of
battery in October after he and several other marijuana activists were
ejected from a Rancho Cucamonga meeting of the Inland Valley Drug Free
Community Coalition.

Swerdlow says the meeting was advertised as a public

But Paul Chabot, the event's guest speaker and husband of the
coalition's president, denied entry to Swerdlow after Swerdlow was
recognized as a marijuana activist, Swerdlow said.

Chabot told sheriff's deputies that Swerdlow pushed him and entered
the meeting when he was told he wasn't welcome. Swerdlow denies there
was any physical contact.

Swerdlow pleaded not guilty to the battery charge, a misdemeanor, in

On Friday, a plea deal was offered that would have reduced Swerdlow's
charge to an infraction for disturbing the peace.

Swerdlow. declining the offer, said he is determined to go to trial if
necessary to clear his name.

"I will not plead guilty to anything because I did not do anything
wrong," Swerdlow said after a hearing in West Valley Superior Court.

Swerdlow said another man who was ejected from the meeting, Temecula
resident Marty Victor, spoke to sheriff's deputies a week after the
meeting seeking assault charges brought against Chabot.

Chabot, Victor said, verbally harassed marijuana activists who
attempted to enter the meeting.

Chabot did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Swerdlow said he would consider pleading guilty to the infraction if
Chabot were convicted of the same offense.

Deputy District Attorney Garo Madenlian, the prosecutor, said he was
unaware of Victor's statement to sheriff's deputies before Friday's
court hearing.

Swerdlow is set to appear for a hearing Aug. 27 in West Valley
Superior Court. 
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