Lepp Pleads Not Guilty

Lepp Pleads Not Guilty
Posted by CN Staff on February 18, 2005 at 09:48:57 PT
By John Lindblom - Record-Bee Staff
Source: Record-Bee
San Francisco -- A day after his arrest on federal drug charges, a Lake County marijuana grower was in court for arraignment.Charles "Eddy" Lepp was charged with distribution of marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and maintaining a premise for the purpose of cultivating marijuana before U.S. Magistrate Maria Elena James in a federal court in San Francisco on Thursday, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report.
The new charges against Lepp, all in violation of federal drug laws, stem from a DEA Task Force undercover operation on Jan. 19 in which Lepp is alleged to have negotiated for the sale and purchase of one pound of dried and processed marijuana.Also charged in Thursday's federal court session was Daniel Barnes, who was arrested along with Lepp in a Wednesday morning raid on Lepp's Upper Lake property by 34 DEA and local law enforcement officers. Lepp pleaded not guilty to the charges, said his attorney, Dennis Roberts of Oakland.The DEA reported its undercover task force officer was wearing a concealed audio transmittal device when he met with Lepp to feign the purchase of marijuana. Conversation transmitted by the device was monitored and recorded by other DEA agents observing the undercover meeting.During the meeting, the DEA alleges Lepp told the undercover task force officer that he possessed a strain of cannabis that would make White Widow a marijuana strain that contains a high content of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana pale by comparison.At no point during these negotiations, according to the DEA report, was the subject of "medical marijuana" used. Lepp has continuously claimed that he has grown marijuana only for medical use, which exempts him from prosecution under California law.The DEA's criminal complaint states that Lepp agreed to sell one pound of high THC marijuana for $2,500. It adds that Barnes acted as go-between in the illegal transaction, delivering the marijuana and taking the $2,500.Roberts, Lepp's attorney, branded the new charges as "outrageous and bogus" and again charged that the DEA is taking "retaliatory" action because Lepp has used the federal court to force the agency to return personal property seized in raids prior to Wednesday's."I don't know how Eddy could possibly be involved in a sale," said Roberts. "Eddy is too smart to involve himself (in drug sales) while he is under indictment. This is obviously retaliatory for forcing them (the DEA) to turn over his property."As a separate action, Thursday the DEA, responding to an order issued earlier by a federal magistrate, did return some of Lepp's property, Roberts said. But he added that it was not all of the property and came from only one raid.Still missing, said Roberts, are Lepp's records of patients, which Roberts said will be crucial to his defense. Roberts vowed that the effort to recover Lepp's property will continue.After Thursday's reading of the new indictment against him, Lepp was returned to the Marin County Jail, Roberts reported. Lepp will appear in court again today for appointment of new counsel, said Roberts, who said he will be assuming a lesser role in Lepp's defense.Lepp's new lawyer is expected to be San Francisco attorney Steve Fermino. Lepp will return to court on Tuesday, Feb. 22, for setting of bail on the new charges.Roberts said the charges that already existed against Lepp prior to Wednesday's raid will most likely be combined with the new ones in a single indictment, a legal process known as "superseding."The new charges, which also include the 6,300 plants seized in the Wednesday raid on Lepp's property, were announced in the DEA's Thursday report.The new charges, alone, carry a 10-year prison sentence if Lepp is convicted.Source: Lake County Record-Bee (CA)Author: John Lindblom - Record-Bee StaffPublished: Friday, February 18, 2005Copyright: 2005 Record-BeeContact: editorial record-bee.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Eddys Medicinal Gardens County Medical Pot Activist Jailed Marijuana Battle Heats Up Grower Could Face Life in Prison
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