Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Contact:  Fri, 24 Jul 1998


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

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 drugs.

Michigan does not have a law permitting medicinal marijuana

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

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

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Checked-by: "Rich O'Grady"