Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 1998
Source: Contra Costa Times (CA) 
Author: Associated Press


LOS ANGELES -- A self-help publisher who wanted to become the "Bill Gates of
medical marijuana" allegedly financed an operation that grew more than 6,000
of the illegal plants, according to a federal indictment.

Peter McWilliams, 48, of Los Angeles paid for his marijuana operation with
funds from his publishing company, Prelude Press, federal prosecutors said.

Also named in the indictment was Todd McCormick, the 27-year-old who was
arrested last year after authorities found more than 4,000 marijuana plants
growing in his rented Bel-Air mansion. The latest indictment supersedes the
previous charge of conspiracy to manufacturer marijuana. McCormick remains
free on bail.

McWilliams was arrested Thursday along with another man. Five defendants,
including McCormick, were arrested previously, and two others remain at
large, authorities said.

All are charged with conspiracy to grow marijuana, possessing the drug with
the intent to distribute, and distributing it.

McWilliams was being held on $250,000 bail after his arrest Thursday. His
attorney, Harland Braun, said the government issued the indictment as part
of a campaign to discredit medical marijuana advocates.

The group allegedly grew marijuana at four leased locations in Los Angeles
County, distributed it and tried to sell to the Los Angeles Cannibis Buyer's
Club, which has dispensed the drug since Californians voted in 1996 to
legalize it for medical use.

The indictment said McWilliams provided McCormick and others with more than
$100,000 last year. McCormick used a Prelude Press credit card to buy
growing materials, and McWilliams said he wanted to become the "Bill Gates
of medical marijuana," according to the indictment.

McCormick has maintained he has done nothing illegal under Proposition 215,
which legalized the cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for
medicinal purposes on a doctor's recommendation. Federal courts have not
recognized the state law.

Messages left at McCormick's home Thursday night were not returned.

McWilliams also is to stand trial for allegedly possessing drugs in Detroit,
where a judge has ruled that he can claim that marijuana helps keep him alive.

McWilliams was arrested in December 1996 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport as
he was about to fly home to Los Angeles. He said marijuana eases his nausea
during chemotherapy for non-Hodgkins' lymphoma and helps him tolerate AIDS

Michigan does not have a law permitting medicinal marijuana use.

The other people named in the indictment who were previously arrested, in
addition to McCormick: Kirill Dyjine, also known as Hermes Zygott, 33, of
Hollywood; Andrew Scott Hass, 34, of Malibu and Bellingham, Wash.;
Christopher Carrington, 32, of Manhattan Beach; and Gregg Collier, 25, of
Van Nuys and Bellingham, Wash.

Arrested with McWilliams on Thursday was David Richards, 25, of Lancaster.

Authorities said Aleksandra Evanguelidi, 24, and Renee Boje, 28, both of Los
Angeles, remained fugitives, authorities said.

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett