Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2013
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2013 Los Angeles Times
Authors: Robert Faturechi and Martha Groves
Page: AA1


The Charity Official's Ties to Dispensaries Are 'Shocking,' Baca's 
Spokesman Says.

The development director for a charity run by Los Angeles County 
Sheriff Lee Baca was fired this week after federal authorities 
searched her home as part of an investigation into marijuana 
dispensaries operated by her husband, officials said Thursday.

The sheriff 's spokesman called the discovery of Dawn Zamudio's ties 
to pot dispensaries upsetting given Baca's vocal criticism of such businesses.

"This is shocking to the sheriff and the entire department because 
she was such an outstanding employee," the spokesman, Steve Whitmore, 
said. "This is something that was withheld from the department and 
the sheriff. We are cooperating fully with this investigation."

The Times began making inquiries about Zamudio and her husband, 
Ramiro, last month. Public records connect Ramiro Zamudio to 
marijuana dispensaries in Marina del Rey and Los Angeles. Court 
records show that he had been arrested and charged with two felonies 
for transportation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale 
but that the case was dismissed in 2009.

Dawn Zamudio had been working for the Sheriff 's Youth Foundation, 
which raises money for youth programs across the county, for the last decade.

Whitmore described her as an assistant at the organization. A 2011 
filing listed her as the development director, making $103,700 that 
year and working 60 hours a week.

Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration 
in Los Angeles, said that search warrants were served in connection 
with the marijuana investigation Wednesday but that no arrests had been made.

She said agents would examine what was seized at several locations to 
determine what charges, if any, should be filed.

Among the dispensaries searched were Ironworks Collective, the Marina 
del Rey operation, and Downtown Collective on South Hill Street in 
Los Angeles. Federal records describe Ramiro Zamudio as running the operations.

Pullen said DEA agents seized guns at two dispensaries and ammunition 
and gun magazines at a San Gabriel residence. Federal authorities say 
the residence is the Zamudios' home.

Pullen would not say whether the Zamudios are suspects in the probe. 
Federal court documents in support of the search warrant name both 
but suggest Ramiro Zamudio is a key focus of the investigation.

The Times was not able to reach the Zamudios.

Baca has been a vocal critic of pot dispensaries, saying some have 
become hubs for crime and have been abused by customers who have no 
medical need for the drug. Whitmore said Baca did not know until this 
week that Dawn Zamudio was connected to the marijuana trade.

The DEA said in an affidavit that there was probable cause to believe 
that Ramiro Zamudio "organizes and leads a marijuana distribution 
organization that includes three marijuana distribution stores and a 
marijuana testing facility."

According to court documents, a security guard outside one of the 
dispensaries identified himself as a reserve sheriff 's deputy.
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