Pubdate: Thu, 01 Nov 2012
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Record Searchlight
Author: Alayna Shulman


Lawsuit Filed Against Shasta County

A woman who alleged earlier this year that deputies destroyed more 
than 200 legally grown marijuana plants on her Round Mountain 
property is now suing Shasta County.

Esmeralda Sanchez Garcia alleges her civil rights were violated 
between August and October 2011 when deputies with the Shasta County 
Sheriff's Office and other county employees searched her property 
without warrants and then destroyed 203 plants, as well as 
unprocessed and processed marijuana, that she said were for medical 
use for her and several other patients.

But the lawsuit - filed in early October - will have to wait until 
criminal charges against Sanchez Garcia stemming from the pot raid 
are resolved. Her attorney, Joe Rogoway of Santa Rosa, said the 
Shasta County District Attorney's Office in April filed charges 
against her over the same marijuana grow she claims they illegally 
raided, so a civil case can't proceed until the criminal one is out of the way.

She'll have a preliminary hearing Nov. 15 over three felony counts of 
marijuana-related charges, according to electronic court records.

The lawsuit alleges county employees searched Sanchez Garcia's 
property three times without warrants, even though her doctor's 
recommendation for medical marijuana and several others were posted 
on the site and acknowledged by them.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said in February that search 
warrants aren't always needed, and sheriff's reports from the 
incident said deputies believed from interviews with Sanchez Garcia 
and the men tending the plants that the grow was for profit.

Attorney Rogoway also alleges Sanchez Garcia was wrongfully arrested 
because her grow was in compliance and Shasta County teams violated 
California's Compassionate Use Act. He said it's suspicious that 
charges were filed in April - shortly after a tort claim she filed 
was rejected by the county - even though the incidents happened 
months earlier. That leads him to believe the charges may have been 
filed to prevent a civil case, he said.

"It seems like this could perhaps just be an ideological issue and, 
you know, it's really unfortunate, because she did what her doctor 
said she could do," he said, noting that she was allowed up to 99 
plants but didn't even have that many for herself.

Sgt. Barry Powell wrote in a report that some men interviewed at the 
grow said another man named "Angel" was paying them to care for the 
plants, but told them they were legal. Sanchez Garcia - who does not 
live on the property - told Powell she was not paying anybody to care 
for the plants and the men there weren't her caregivers, Powell wrote.

Lt. Tom Campbell, the commander of the Shasta Narcotics Task Force, 
Marijuana Investigations Team and Domestic Highway Enforcement Team, 
said he couldn't comment on the case because of the litigation, but 
confirmed that charges were filed against Sanchez Garcia for what was 
considered an illegal grow.

"They did deem it an illegal grow outside of Prop. 215 and a felony 
grow," he said.

Campbell would not specify what made the grow illegal, but noted that 
within the past several months, more people were arrested on the same 
property for another allegedly illegal grow.

The suit seeks at least $25,000.
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