More Problems at DEA: Agent Implicated in Theft of Attorney Client Records in State Medical Marijuana Trial
By Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Americans for Safe Access
Twelve jurors and two alternates were selected on Wednesday in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court, officially starting the criminal trial of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla a navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing, a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.
According to court records, it all started on June 17, 2010 when DEA agent Beau Bilek led a raid on the offices of the Redwood Law Group after his requests for a search warrant were denied by the Mendocino County Superior Court. Attorney and President of the firm raided that day was Mark Wuerfel, the business attorney representing Therapeutic Healing of which Padilla is President.
The trial brief submitted by defense attorney Michael J. McCabe this week states that on June 17, 2010 Agent Bilek “looted privileged attorney-client files”, as well as data from the law firm’s computers including information about the different medical marijuana patients and coops the firm represented.
After the raid, the Mendocino County Court actually intervened and ordered the DEA to return the stolen property as well as instructed the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office to help retrieve the records from the DEA. Still, the agency refused and only returned two of the original four stolen boxes.
Privileged information obtained from the unlawful raid on the attorney’s office, including the fact that Mr. Wuerfel represented a collective named Therapeutic Healing in San Diego, was distributed to various DEA offices throughout the state. In San Diego, cross sworn DEA Agent Paxton picked up the case and began shopping it around for prosecution.
On January 27, 2011, six months after Bilek stole the records, Padilla was arrested by Paxton.
The investigation leading up to Padilla’s arrest yielded zero evidence of criminal activity and proved quite the opposite. It showed Therapeutic Healing was operating in strict and unambiguous compliance with all state laws.
Padilla hired Mr. Wuerful as the coop’s general counsel, paid all the required taxes, and hired a tax attorney and CPA to ensure the coop’s financial records were all properly kept and in compliance with the law.
After Paxton failed to convince the US Attorney’s office to prosecute Padilla in federal court he appealed to Dumanis’ office which has a long standing record of chipping away at the State’s medical marijuana program through prosecutions of legitimate patients. Dumanis’ office happily picked up the case.
When Padilla was originally notified of the charges against him, his attorney’s immediately scheduled a time and sat down with the DA and opened up all the coop’s records for examination. They showed all the taxes paid, the board meeting notes, sales receipts, business records, etc.
According to the defense, every single request made by the prosecution for information, documents and evidence about Therapeutic Healing and Padilla was voluntarily provided by the defense.
The law requires that prosecutors prior to filing charges evaluate whether a defendant should be charged with the crimes at all. In the case of Padilla, the DA refused to consider all the evidence of compliance and along with the DEA failed to provide any explanation for the continuing prosecution of Padilla, even after overwhelming evidence was provided by the defense establishing immunity from prosecution.
The DEA’s behavior in this case as well as the refusal of the San Diego DA’s office to review all the evidence proves that this prosecution is nothing more than a thinly veiled agenda of the DEA to promote its federal goals of undermining the State law and sanctioned medical marijuana programs.
As a result of this bias driven effort to eradicate medical marijuana from California and continued effort to chip away at patient’s rights, it is now necessary for the court and a jury to do what should have been done previously by the prosecution in finding that Padilla is not guilty of committing the alleged criminal acts being asserted by them.
The trial is being held in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court.
The attorneys have called a press conference for Friday, May 18, 2012 at 8:15am in front of the Hall of Justice — 330 W Broadway, San Diego CA
Media Inquiries Contact: Eugene Davidovich — 619-755-2093 or firstname.lastname@example.org