Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dispensary owner charged with illegal marijuana sales

SANTA ANA â€" The owner of a Lake Forest marijuana dispensary has
been arrested on charges of illegally selling marijuana and laundering
the profits through banks.

Mark Gregory Moen, 50, Westminster, is the owner-operator of 215 Agenda,
a marijuana dispensary on Raymond Way in Lake Forest, according to a
news release from the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

He was charged with 38 counts of money laundering, one count of
possession of money over $100,000 obtained from illegal sales of
marijuana, three counts of the sale of marijuana, one felony count of
possession of marijuana for sale, and a sentencing enhancement for money
laundering over $150,000.

Moen also faces two sentencing enhancements for crime-bail-crime because
he was out of custody on bail for felony burglary charges in Orange
County from October 2006 and felony transportation of more than $25,000
obtained as the result of illegal drug sales in Mendocino County in June
2009, prosecutors said.

If convicted on all counts, Moen faces a maximum sentence of 39 years in
state prison. He is being held on $500,000 bail and must prove the money
is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond.

Robert Adams Moody, 23, Mission Viejo, a manager and operator of the
dispensary, was also arrested and charged with sales of marijuana,
possession of marijuana for sale, and cultivating marijuana. He faces a
maximum sentence of eight years in state prison if convicted.

Marco Enrique Verduzco, 23, Foothill Ranch, another manager of 215
Agenda, was charged with sales of marijuana and possession of marijuana
for sale. If convicted, Verduzco faces a maximum sentence of six years
and eight months in state prison.

The three defendants are accused of selling marijuana to any person with
a physician's recommendation, without any relationship to the purchaser
and without requiring or requesting them to participate in collectively
or cooperatively cultivating marijuana, according to the news release.

All three pleaded not guilty on Monday.

California law allows qualified patients with a physician's
recommendation and their primary caregivers to "collectively or
cooperatively ... cultivate marijuana for medical purposes," according
to section 11362.775 of the state's health and safety code.

"We don't believe that was occurring in this situation," said Jeff
Schunk, a deputy district attorney who is prosecuting the case. "We
believe the way they were selling marijuana was illegal."

215 Agenda and another Lake Forest dispensary were raided Nov. 13 by
Orange County Sheriff's Department investigators with search warrants.
Investigators seized financial records including receipts, buyer sheets,
member lists and check stubs from 215 Agenda and The Health Collective,
looking for evidence that the two dispensaries were profit-making
businesses and not nonprofit collectives, records and interviews showed.

On Sept. 30, Moen was stopped for a traffic violation while driving in
Huntington Beach, prosecutors said. He was found to be in possession of
more than $145,000 in cash. Moen told a Huntington Beach police officer
that the money was the proceeds of eight days worth of sales at 215
Agenda, according to a search-warrant affidavit filed by investigators
in connection with the Nov. 13 raid.

A phone call to 215 Agenda went unanswered on Monday afternoon.

An advertisement for 215 Agenda has appeared in the OC Weekly, according
to the District Attorney's Office, that reads, "FREE MARIJUANA First
time patients receive a free edible and a pre-roll with mention of this
ad," and "We carry the Best Weed in the entire World!"

Moen and Verduzco were arrested Friday at 215 Agenda by investigators
from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Moody was arrested in a
nearby store.

Moen is separately facing charges in a 2006 commercial burglary of a
business in Santa Ana, Schunk said. Moen was linked to that crime by DNA
evidence and charged in 2009, Schunk said. He has pleaded not guilty and
was free on $20,000 bond, online court records show.

Register staff writer Salvador Hernandez contributed to this report.

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