Owners Of Six SoCal Medical Marijuana Stores Arrested

LOS ANGELES—The owner of six Southern California medical marijuana dispensaries, including one linked to a highway accident that killed a motorist and paralyzed a California Highway Patrol officer, was arrested Tuesday on drug and money laundering charges, prosecutors said.

Virgil Grant III, 41, of Carson, was indicted in U.S. District Court along with his wife, Psytra Grant, 33, but neither entered pleas, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office. The charges include selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Authorities are still searching for an employee, Stanley Jerome Cole, who allegedly sold a pound of marijuana to undercover agents for $5,700, said Mrozek.

A federal grand jury returned a 41-count indictment that named all three, Mrozek said.

Cole allegedly sold marijuana products to Jeremy White, who has been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in Ventura County in connection with a December 2007 accident.  The accident that prompted authorities to begin investigating Grant occured after CHP Officer Anthony Pedeferri had just pulled over Andreas Parra, a 20-year-old motorist from Phoenix, during a routine traffic stop. Pedeferri had dismounted his motorcycle and was talking to Parra when [suspect Jeremy] White's pickup drifted out of the northbound lanes of the 101 Freeway near Ventura and careened into Parra's SUV. Parra was killed.Pedeferri, a triathlete and the father of two girls, was knocked out of his boots and thrown 20 yards into brush along the side of the road, according to news reports. He was left paralyzed by his injuries.

White's blood was tested and a forensics lab supervisor said White had the highest levels of marijuana concentration he'd ever seen.

DEA agents conducted stings at each of Grant's stores, which included purchasing "a pound of marijuana for $5,700 out of the back door of the facility." Grant is charged with drug conspiracy, money laundering and operating a drug-involved premises within 1,000 feet of a school and his wife was also charged with drug conspiracy and 22 counts of money laundering.

In late July, the Los Angeles City Council disapproved of the DEA's actions of raiding medical marijuana storefronts while placing a moratorium on new facilities so rules could be drafted to better regulate them. However, city attorneys say Grant misled the type of operation on his business license, which has also expired.

Federal investigators determined that White purchased the marijuana from The Holistic Caregivers, or THC, in Compton, which is one of the medical marijuana dispensaries allegedly operated by Virgil Grant.

California's medical marijuana law prohibits the cultivation and sale of marijuana for profit. Marijuana use is illegal under federal law, which does not recognize the medical marijuana laws in California and 11 other states.

Virgil Grant was being held on $250,000 bail while his wife was released on $50,000 bail Tuesday evening, said Mrozek..

Messages left for Virgil Grant's attorney, Roger Rosen, and for Psytra Grant's attorney, Steven Schectman, were not returned late Tuesday.

The couple is due back in court Monday for arraignment.


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