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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Seeking Utilities For Dispensary Leads To Arrest
Title:US CA: Seeking Utilities For Dispensary Leads To Arrest
Published On:2012-02-02
Source:Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Fetched On:2012-02-04 06:02:48
SEEKING UTILITIES FOR DISPENSARY LEADS TO ARREST

At first he didn't succeed, but trying again led to trouble for a
Riverside medical marijuana dispensary operator who police say got a
city business license using fake information after his first, more
honest attempt was denied.

On Tuesday, Riverside police officers in SWAT gear came to Discount
Patient Care at 6343 Magnolia Ave. and arrested Jimmie Sutterfield,
29, of Jurupa Valley, and booked him into Robert Presley Detention
Center on suspicion of filing false documents in a public office,
perjury and burglary, all felony charges.

Sutterfield, who was released Wednesday on bail, could not be reached
for comment. No one answered the door or appeared to be at Discount
Patient Care on Thursday afternoon, and a home address Sutterfield
used on his city application corresponds to a large mobile home
development but doesn't include an internal street address or unit
number.

The issue began Dec. 13, when Sutterfield called Riverside Public
Utilities to get service started at his business, Riverside police
Detective Brian Money said. The customer service representative asked
whether he had a business license, and Sutterfield said he couldn't
get one because the city doesn't give them to marijuana dispensaries,
Money said.

Within the last year, the city added a box on the business tax
application -- often referred to as a business license -- asking
whether the applicant will "make medical marijuana available." City
zoning forbids all dispensaries.

Not to be deterred, Sutterfield returned to the city and filled out a
business tax application with the dispensary address, listing
"Sutterfield Aviation" as an "airframe maintenance" business,
according to city records. The medical marijuana box on the form is
checked "no."

When he called the utility department back, someone recalled
Sutterfield's initial request and questioned him about the
discrepancy, Money said. "In this particular case, it was just a
perfect storm. There were very obvious and blatant communications to
the public utilities (staff), who were able to identify it right away."

The issue was referred to police, who obtained a warrant against
Sutterfield on fraud charges. Money said the dispensary's few other
employees were not arrested and will not face charges. The armed SWAT
response was "to prevent any accident or any injury" because
dispensaries often hire armed security guards or keep weapons on the
premises to deter robberies, he said.

Mark Johnson, who owns the property the dispensary is on, said
Sutterfield deceived him also. Johnson has been involved in unrelated
eminent domain litigation with the city for years, and now the city is
suing him for leasing to Discount Patient Care, as it has with other
property owners where dispensaries have opened.

Johnson said he was given different stories about what kind of
business would be leasing his storefront but was not told it would be
a dispensary, and the actual contract signing was handled by his
elderly father because Johnson was out of the country. When he got
back to town early in the year, Johnson said, he gave Sutterfield a
notice to move out for breach of contract.

Although Riverside City Attorney Greg Priamos has been seeking to
close marijuana dispensaries in the city since 2010, this is an
unusual situation. Police don't usually get involved, because the city
handles the matter through civil court filings, and most dispensaries
open without a business license, Priamos said. He said some might have
avoided the utility hook-up issue by moving into existing business
locations that already have utility service.

It also may be unique in the seemingly clear-cut documentation the
city says it has. Detective Money noted that most calls people make to
the city are recorded, and there's the business tax application --
evidence that Priamos said put this case "under the category of
world's dumbest criminals."
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