Pubdate: Wed, 10 Aug 2016
Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2016 The Trentonian
Author: David Foster


TRENTON - Facing an 11-count indictment on drug charges, Ed Forchion, 
aka NJ Weedman, is not breaking a sweat.

In fact, the pro-marijuana activist has challenged acting Mercer 
County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri to take the lead on the case.

"I'm ready for it," Forchion said Tuesday shortly after learning of 
the indictment. "I really hope that Prosecutor Onofri presents this 
case and takes this ass whooping himself."

Onofri announced Tuesday in a press release that a grand jury 
returned the indictment charging the 52-year-old with numerous drug 
offenses stemming from a raid on April 27 at his restaurant and pot 
temple directly across from City Hall on East State Street.

During the raid, 11 people, including Forchion, were arrested for 
various offenses after police seized $19,000 worth of pot. Some were 
apprehended in connection with outstanding warrants, and others were 
charged with new drug offenses.

The prosecutor's office has rarely - if ever - put out a press 
release regarding on indictment on drug offenses. The indictment 
press releases are consistently associated with just murder cases.

Mercer County Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Casey DeBlasio 
explained Tuesday that Forchion's indictment was released due to 
media requests.

But Forchion's attorney Edward Heyburn sees it a different way.

"I think that they have selectively targeted Ed Forchion from the 
beginning," the attorney said Tuesday. "They've enforced statutes 
against him that they haven't enforced against any other business."

Forchion, who is free on bail, is scheduled for his first appearance 
on Thursday morning in Mercer County State Superior Court in Trenton.

A motion his attorney made to return Forchion's surveillance system 
will also be heard at the court date.

"They intentionally seized his surveillance system that will show 
that he is not guilty of these offenses," the attorney said. "And I 
am concerned that the prosecutor's office will mishandle the video 
and delete important aspects of it for their convenience."

Heyburn said the seizure happened after his client reached out to the 
city's attorneys alerting them that a police captain had lied in an 
affidavit and his video proved it.

"To me, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office is just playing a 
dangerous game where they're trying to control evidence of not only 
of my client's innocence, but of perjury," Heyburn said.

Forchion's relationship with police has been anything but harmonious 
in recent months. He was also arrested in May for cyberbullying and 
harassment of a Trenton police officer outside of his restaurant.

Experts have weighed in that the charges are unconstitutional and the 
story was reported by national media outlets.

On Friday, Forchion sent Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson a letter telling 
the city leader he would entertain a $150,000 settlement instead of 
filing a lawsuit.

"The actions of the Police on May 11th and May 13th were clearly 
unconstitutional violations of my civil rights and I would most 
likely prevail in a federal civil rights lawsuit," Forchion stated in 
the letter obtained by The Trentonian. "Mr. Mayor Expect to be 
subpoena'd (sic). I'm sure with an attorney and a couple years of 
billing time and publicity, along with the anti-police sentiment 
prevalent now - a jury would bless me with a great 6 figure compensation."

Forchion asked for a response by Thursday but has yet to hear back 
from the city.

"I don't even think the city can move fast enough," said Forchion, 
who is a 12th congressional district candidate in November's 
election. "I think that the city is so dysfunctional."

In the criminal case, Forchion was indicted on four counts of 
possession of a controlled dangerous substance, one count of 
distribution, one count of possession with the intent to distribute, 
one count of possession with the intent to distribute within 1,000 
feet of a school, one count of distribution within 1,000 feet of a 
school, one count of maintaining a narcotics nuisance, one count of 
possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to distribute and 
one count of maintaining a fortified structure. Prosecutors said 
Forchion is also charged with possessing and distributing marijuana 
on additional dates in March and April in Trenton.

"I truly believe that I am conviction proof," the marijuana activist 
said. "I don't believe Mr. Onofri will get 12 people to say I'm 
guilty of violating the laws, the marijuana lies that we call laws."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom