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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    The Petaluma man arrested in a high-profile marijuana case in 2009 now is facing several federal charges, but his attorney can’t use the medical marijuana defense that he had prepared for a trial that was about to take place in Marin County.

    Avery Badenhop, 47, pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, but he isn’t able to defend himself on medical marijuana grounds because unlike local laws, federal laws do not allow marijuana for medical purposes.

    “It’s a real shame. This situation was about to go to trial and we had prepared a medical marijuana defense, but now we can’t use it because in a federal jurisdiction there can be no such defense,” said Douglas Rappaport, Badenhop’s attorney.

    Badenhop, a stuntman and tattoo artist, was arrested by federal authorities on Aug. 4 when he came to a Marin County court for a pretrial motion to get his case dismissed on medical marijuana grounds. It was the day before jury selection was to begin in his trial.

    Rappaport was surprised by the timing of the federal charges.

    “It is very unusual for federal authorities to do something like this. They had plenty of opportunity to scrutinize information to see if this could be tried as a federal offense,” he said.

    The current, federal charges are conspiracy to manufacture, to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute marijuana; manufacture of and possession with intent to distribute marijuana; two money laundering counts related to marijuana transactions; and four “structuring” counts related to purchasing money orders from multiple post offices to evade reports, which are required if a series of purchases reaches $3,000.

    If convicted, he faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison, and a maximum $2 million fine on each of the two marijuana possession charges; a maximum of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved, for each of the two money laundering charges; and a maximum of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000 for each of the four structuring charges.

    Badenhop was freed by federal authorities after posting a promissory bond.

    The Marin County District Attorney’s Office dismissed its charges after federal authorities arrested Badenhop.

    “We made the determination because their charges encompassed our charges, and added the money laundering charges,” said Barry Borden, Marin County’s chief deputy district attorney.

    A California Highway Patrol officer spotted Badenhop speeding in a vehicle in Marin County on Aug. 28, 2009. Officers found that in the vehicle, he had 20 pounds of marijuana, 200 grams of hash and 100 vials of hash oil in a secret compartment in the car.

    Members of the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force then came to Petaluma, where they searched his residence on Kingswood Drive, several other homes and a business near Petaluma Municipal Airport. They found around $800,000 in cash (including $760,000 from Badenhop’s home), 62 pounds of processed marijuana, three gardens with a cumulative total of 420 plants, hundreds of vials of hash and hash oil and five handguns.

    Within 12 hours, police officers arrested Badenhop’s wife, Jerri Bionda, as well as four friends and business associates — Marc Herrnberger, Jeremy Kaltenbach, Harry Parker and Radek Statsny. All six people later were released, but the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force continued to investigate the case.

    Badenhop’s bail was set at $2 million, but his attorney, Douglas Rappaport, was able to get the bail lowered to $500,000, which Badenhop posted on Oct. 26, 2009.

    Badenhop was charged with sale or transportation of concentrated cannabis; sale or transportation of marijuana; possession of concentrated cannabis for sale; possession of marijuana for sale; and possession of a controlled substance.

    He also was charged with two crimes resulting from a Petaluma investigation: possession of marijuana for sale and possession of drug funds in excess of $100,000.

    Badenhop pleaded not guilty to the charges and was trying to get his case dismissed on the grounds that he was delivering marijuana to legal dispensaries.

    The Marin County District Attorney’s Office handled the Badenhop case because he was arrested in Marin, while the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office has been investigating the cases of the other five people.

    A hearing in Badenhop’s federal case was held in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Dec. 2 to determine if the attorneys are ready to proceed to trial. The defense attorneys received a large amount of new information and need time to review it, so the hearing won’t resume until Feb. 2.


    By DAN JOHNSON,
    ARGUS-COURIER STAFF
    Published: Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 3:00 a.m.

    http://www.petaluma360.com/article/...ity?Title=Feds-take-over-major-marijuana-case

Comments

  1. talltom
    I'm wondering what this says about the Obama administration's policy on marijuana enforcement. Twenty pounds of pot is a large amount. Does anyone know if Badenhop was distributing to medical marijuana dispensaries? Also, has Leonhart been finally confirmed as permanent DEA director? If so, there could be difficult times ahead for marijuana distribution, medical or not.
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ this is a high profile case here. Within an hour of the arrest there were already indications this was a political football - two possible CA jurisdictions involved and signs neither wanted to deal with this case- both due to repercussions in the medical marijuana realm and because the state is broke- and this looked to be a long and expensive case.

    Really don't want to discuss this too much as it's kind of blurry what has been publicised and what hasn't. so heres a selection of the main news storyies from the petaluma paper on this story.

    Six from Petaluma arrested; guns, pot, $800,000 in cash seized

    The case of a suspected Petaluma marijuana trafficking ring, allegedly headed by a risk-taking BASE jumper found with $750,000 cash at his Petaluma home, goes to court Monday afternoon.

    Avery Badenhop, 46, his wife, Jerri Bionda, 46, and four other Petalumans were scheduled to be arraigned in Marin County court on multiple drug and conspiracy charges at 1:30 p.m.

    Each of the six are being held in the jail there in lieu of $2.5 million bail.

    The suspected marijuana traffickers were discovered Friday after a traffic stop in Marin County by a CHP officer in Marin County.
    Twenty pounds of marijuana found in Badenhop’s car led Marin County Major Crimes Task Force officers north to Petaluma.

    After a day of searching five homes and one business, officers had six in custody and discovered $800,000 in cash, more than 60 pounds of processed marijuana, three indoor gardens with 420 plants, hundreds of vials of hash and hash oil and five handguns.

    The bulk of the money, as well as much of the marijuana, was found at the west Petaluma home of Badenhop and Bionda, officers said.
    Badenhop was believed to be the ring leader. Known as the “Tattoo Buckaroo” for his tattoo art, he has a Web site describing him as a stunt man and BASE parachute jumper, meaning he jumps from high places instead of an airplane.

    He listed several high places around the world that he’s jumped from including the Golden Gate Bridge and spots in Venezuela and Kuala Lumpur.

    In 2000, in an interview with Badenhop for The Press Democrat, Badenhop said he was a computer repair technician by profession and a jumper for fun.

    His wife, Bionda, said she worked as an insurance salesman.


    By RANDI ROSSMANN
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
    Published: Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 11:39 a.m.

    http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20090830/ARTICLES/908309989




    Charges delayed for Petaluma dope-ring suspects

    A suspected marijuana trafficking ring based in Petaluma likely was active for several years before authorities raided three growing operations and arrested six people over the weekend, officials said.

    The ring, which authorities said was headed by a risk-taking BASE jumper and tattoo artist, distributed marijuana, cannabis and hash products grown in Petaluma throughout the Bay Area.

    “This is not something that's brand new,” said Sgt. Fred Marziano, supervisor of the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force. “Based on the amount of cash that was on scene, this had been going on for a while. If I had to guess, at least a couple of years.”

    The six Petalumans suspected of trafficking processed marijuana, hash and hash oil are friends and business associates connected through a common interest in sky-diving and BASE jumping, Marziano.

    BASE jumping refers to parachuting from fixed objects. BASE is an acronym that stands for the four categories of fixed objects: building, antenna, span and Earth.

    Their arraignments in Marin County court were postponed Monday afternoon while investigators pursued additional leads in the case. Each is being held in lieu of $2.5 million bail. Authorities have until Wednesday to file charges against the six.

    Several people who attended the brief court session appeared to have connections with the suspects but they declined to comment.

    At the heart of the case is a Petaluma man sometimes known as “Tattoo Buckaroo” for his tattoo work. He is Avery Badenhop, 46, a stunt man and BASE parachute jumper who's leaped from structures including the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Badenhop was arrested Friday morning after a CHP traffic stop for speeding in Marin County.

    The 20 pounds of marijuana, 200 grams of hash and 100 vials of hash oil found in a secret compartment in Badenhop's car led Marin County Major Crimes Task Force officers north to Petaluma.

    Within 12 hours of Badenhop's arrest, his wife, Jerri Bionda, 46, and four friends and business associates — Radek Stastny, 38, Harry Parker, 45, Jeremy Kaltenbach, 39, and Marc Herrnberger, 52, also had been arrested.

    Authorities arrested Stastny, Parker and Kaltenbach at a home on La Cresta Drive in Petaluma that was being used to grow marijuana, Marziano said.

    Stastny works as a kite boarder, according to the Sheriff's Department, and Parker and Kaltenbach are photographers.

    Herrnberger, a construction worker, was arrested at a home on Baker Court that also was being used as an indoor marijuana growing facility, Marziano said.

    Bionda was arrested at her home on Kingswood Court in Petaluma, where authorities found $750,000, 32 pounds of marijuana and a handgun in two safes, Marziano said.

    She is disabled, according to her booking log entry.

    Marijuana also was being grown at a home on Eastman Lane linked to the suspects, officer said.

    Searches were conducted at all of the properties, as well as at a business near the Petaluma Municipal Airport and a home on Round Court. In all, the searches yielded $800,000 cash, more than 60 pounds of processed marijuana, three indoor gardens with 420 plants, hundreds of vials of hash and hash oil and five handguns.

    Marziano said the operation would have produced enough product for distribution throughout the Bay Area, adding that he “wouldn't be surprised if there were additional \[marijuana growing\] locations.”

    The suspect's lives are believed to overlap in several ways beyond the suspected marijuana operation. Badenhop, Parker, Kaltenbach, and Bionda worked together on a camera team documenting a parachute jump from the Menara KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur in 2001. The structure is the fourth tallest freestanding tower in the world.

    Badenhop was the event organizer and he and Parker also made the jump, according to Badenhop's Web site.

    In 2000, in an interview with The Press Democrat, Badenhop said he was a computer repair technician by profession and a jumper for fun. His wife, Bionda, said she worked in insurance sales.

    The six are being represented by private attorneys.

    By LAURA NORTON & RANDI ROSSMANN
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

    Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 at 8:30 p.m.
    http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20090831/ARTICLES/908319913


    Pot ring suspects released
    Six Petalumans freed after Marin DA declines to file charges


    Sonoma County prosecutors have become involved in a case in which six Petaluma residents were arrested for allegedly operating a drug ring, but the suspects were released from jail on Tuesday night because the Marin County District Attorney’s Office did not file charges.

    The Marin investigation ended on Tuesday without the district attorney’s office filing a complaint, so the suspects were released. State law give prosecutors two 24-hour business days to file charges after an arrest is made. Weekends are not included in the time frame.

    But the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office took up the case on Tuesday, and because the six people who were arrested no longer are in custody, it has up to three years to file charges.

    “The original report submitted to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office was referred to our agency,” said Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders. “The investigation still is in the hands of law enforcement. We can give law-enforcement agencies an idea of what we want them to look into, but they conduct the investigation.”

    The California Highway Patrol, Petaluma Police Dep-artment and a narcotics task force are among the agencies investigating the situation.

    Avery Badenhop, a parachute-jumping stunt man and tattoo artist, is one of the Petalumans who were arrested. Badenhop, 46, faced multiple drug and conspiracy charges. Also arrested were his wife, Jerri Bionda, 46; Radek Stastny, 38; Harry Parker, 45; Jeremy Kaltenbach, 39; and Marc Herrnberger, 52.

    Their arraignment in Marin County court on Monday was postponed while authorities sought more leads and gathered additional evidence in the case. They were released on Tuesday after the Marin district attorney did not file charges.

    During searches at five residences and one business in Petaluma, officers found more than $800,000 in cash, more than 400 marijuana plants, more than 60 pounds of marijuana and hundreds of containers of concentrated cannabis and hash oil. The operation probably had been going on for at least a couple of years, according to Sgt. Fred Marziano, supervisor of the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force.

    The arrests were triggered by a traffic stop by a California Highway Patrol officer on Friday morning on Interstate 580, near San Quentin Prison. CHP Officer P. Blankenship stopped Baden-hop on suspicion of speeding, and began searching the vehicle after detecting the smell of marijuana. Blankenship discovered some 20 pounds of marijuana hidden under the front floorboard and in the trunk of the vehicle.

    The CHP contacted the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force, which obtained search warrant to check Badenhop’s Petaluma home, on Kingswood Drive, off of I Street. There they found $750,000 in cash hidden in two locked safes, 32 pounds of marijuana and a handgun.

    “When we searched the first home on Kingswood Drive, there was information within the home that (Badenhop) had ties to other locations,” Marziano said.

    “We obtained search warrants and searched a total of five additional locations on Friday and Saturday,” he added

    Officers found a total of 420 marijuana plants growing at indoor gardens at three residences on Baker Court, where Hernnberger lives; La Cresta Drive, where Stastny, Parker and Kaltenbach were arrested; and Eastman Lane, Marziano said. They also found 62 pounds of processed marijuana and hundreds of containers of concentrated cannabis and hash oil.

    They also searched a residence on Round Court, near Badenhop’s house on Kingswood Drive, and his business, Tattoo Buckaroo, on Aviation Parkway.

    Marziano said he didn’t know where the drugs were being distributed, but he said it was apparent it was a Bay Area-wide operation that had been in operation for a period of years.

    Badenhop is a tattoo artist and parachuting stuntman whose Web site says he has jumped off of such places as the Golden Gate Bridge, the 3,212-foot Angel Falls in Venezuela and the 1,482-foot Petrona Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It also says he has appeared on TV shows such as “Nash Bridges,” “60 Minutes II” and “World’s Most Amazing Videos.”

    The suspects all share an interest in sky-diving and BASE jumping — parachuting from fixed objects.

    Each of the six suspects were being held in the Marin County Jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail before they were released.

    By DAN JOHNSON
    ARGUS-COURIER STAFF
    Published: Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 10:06 a.m.
    http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20090903/COMMUNITY/909039981


    High profile marijuana case continues

    In one of the most high-profile local incidents involving marijuana, Avery Badenhop, a Petaluma resident, was arrested on Aug. 28 after a California Highway Patrol officer spotted him speeding in a vehicle in Marin County.

    During the stop, CHP officers discovered 20 pounds of marijuana, 200 grams of hash and 100 vials of hash oil in a secret compartment in the car. Members of the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force then came to Petaluma, where they searched his residence.

    Authorities soon broadened their focus, and ended up searching homes on La Cresta Drive, Baker Court, Eastman Lane, Kingswood Court and Round Court, as well as a business near Petaluma Municipal Airport.

    Within 12 hours, officers arrested Badenhop's wife, Jerri Bionda, and four friends and business associates — Marc Herrnberger, Jeremy Kaltenbach, Harry Parker and Radek Stastny.

    All six people were released, but the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force continued to investigate the case, and even traveled to medical marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco

    and the East Bay to investigate whether the suspects were legitimately supplying marijuana to others as caregivers.

    The investigators found no basis for a medical marijuana defense, and re-arrested Badenhop on Oct. 9 and charged him with five drug-related crimes: transporta-tion of hashish; transportation of marijuana; possession of hashish for sale; possession of marijuana for sale; and possession of OxyContin and Vicodin.

    He also is charged with two crimes resulting from the Petaluma invest-igation: possession of marijuana for sale and possession of drug funds in excess of $100,000.

    His bail was set at $2.5 million, but his attorney, Douglas Rappaport, was able to get the bail lowered to $500,000. Badenhop was able to post bail on Oct. 26, and was freed.

    His preliminary hearing date was set for March 2, but a motion by his defense attorneys to set an alternative, later date was approved on Tuesday. It now is scheduled to take place on April 20.

    The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office still is investigating the cases of the other five Petaluma residents.

    By DAN JOHNSON,
    ARGUS-COURIER STAFF

    Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 at 3:00 a.m.

    http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20100222/COMMUNITY/100229769
    Last Modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 3:57 p.m
  3. talltom
    It looks to me like the Feds took over because they did not think the county authorities would prosecute the case aggressively enough. He was planning to use a medical marijuana defense even though, according to the press, earlier investigation indicated he was not distributing primarily to medical marijuana dispensaries. It will be interesting to see how this case turns out.
  4. Alfa
    I think the Obama administration made it clear that the Feds will be going for the big sellers, as opposed to medical marijuana users.
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