Abuse of the Freedom to Decide – Part II

Stephen Downing

In our last column we examined how LBPD’s lead drug detective, Scott De Stefano, persuaded Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim to sign a warrant to search the One Love Dispensary, owned by the Jeff Abrams family, without enlightening the judge as to what exactly went on throughout the investigation he conducted between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. [https://beachcomber.news/content/abuse-freedom-decide-%E2%80%93-part-i]

We’ll try to fill in the blanks for you and his honor in this week’s column.

The investigation actually began on Jan. 27 when a person identifying himself as Robert Michael Adair, 43, visited the medical offices of Dr. Marc Rose, a licensed physician, seeking the doctor’s authorization to use medical cannabis for an illness.

By law, and according to the certificate issued, Dr. Rose examined Adair, evaluated his condition and discussed the potential medical risks and benefits of cannabis use.

Mr. Adair stated that he understood and was provided with a signed Physician Statement and Recommendation – ID number 0710 4943 7514 716 – legally identifying him as a patient whose possession and/or cultivation of medical cannabis is permissible under California law.

But, it was all a lie.

“Adair” was working undercover for the Long Beach Police Department’s drug squad. He conned the physician in order to obtain the Statement of Recommendation so he could deceive management at the One Love Dispensary into believing he was a legitimate MMJ patient.

Adair then sent an email to One Love using the email address (robertadair951@yahoo.com) – and, as required by the One Love web site protocol, Adair attached a scanned copy of the physicians document and a photo I.D. drivers license (determined to be counterfeit) so One Love management could be assured that the delivery address and doctor’s certificate matched the patient.

But when Adair called to purchase medical cannabis and have it delivered, he asked that his medicine be transported to 2100 E. 2nd St., unit 405, in Long Beach, rather than the Bellflower address provided on his phony drivers license.

One Love management refused Adair’s order.

On Jan. 29 One Love sent Adair an email that stated: “Robert, we need the rental agreement to be filled out, so it has your name and address we will be delivering to. Also, if you can please place your I.D. on the top left corner of your recommendation so we have the picture I.D. and the recommendation in the same picture. Let us know if you have any questions.”

On Feb. 1 at 11:02 a.m. Adair sent, via email, a scanned copy of the doctor’s evaluation with a copy of his counterfeit drivers license attached and six minutes later sent a scanned copy of a bogus month-to-month rental agreement dated Jan. 8, 2016 for unit 405 at 2100 E. 2nd St., Long Beach.

Later that same day, as Detective De Stefano attested in his affidavit to Judge Kim, “An assisting detective (Adair) called the number associated with One Love Beach Club and ordered up an amount of marijuana. I was able to see a subject leave 227 Temple Ave. in a vehicle. We observed that subject drive over and meet up with our undercover detective (Adair). The subject identified to our undercover detective that he worked for One Love Beach Club. The subject then proceeded to sell the marijuana to the undercover detective.”

The male delivery employee from One Love did in fact drive to 2100 E. 2nd as stated in De Stefano’s affidavit but when he arrived “Adair” was not in the building, but waiting in a car outside the location.

Adair made an excuse for waiting outside – rather than taking delivery in the building – identified himself as the authorized patient to the satisfaction of the delivery employee, paid for the medicine he ordered by telephone and the employee drove away, unmolested.

So, with his “buy” in hand, Detective De Stefano completed his affidavit, went to Judge Kim and got his search warrant signed 3 hours before the City Council handed down a unanimous vote to deprive the patients of Long Beach of their medicine and continue the MMJ ban.

De Stefano had his “green light.” But, the fact is, he didn’t really need a search warrant.

Back on Jan. 29 – as stated in his affidavit (and as reported in our last column) – in the initial follow up to the alleged “complaints” received by LBPD, Detective C. Thue and his pot dog Ozzie gave De Stefano all the probable cause he needed when the two of them “alerted” to the alleged smell of marijuana coming from within the building.

They could have knocked on the door right then, cited the occupants and been on their way.

Instead De Stefano went to all the trouble and expense of running an extensive undercover operation to obtain a search warrant – for a citable misdemeanor city ordinance violation.

But, when he got his search warrant he didn’t serve it – at least not right away. It appears that De Stefano (or his superiors) had something bigger in mind.

You see misdemeanor citations do not rack up the kind of felony arrest stats that brings in federal grant money. Nor do they nourish a culture in which felony arrests are the stuff of hero drug warrior worship and city hall award ceremonies.

So, how does the LBPD turn the misdemeanor citation mallet they have in hand into a felony sledgehammer in order to keep that culture alive?

This is how.

They bring in their pseudo undercover medical marijuana patient, Robert Michael Adair, for a repeat performance of the prior days work – backed up with the kind of surveillance accessories and personnel resources required for a major cartel take down.

Rather than knocking on the family-owned dispensary door and serving the warrant, De Stefano had “Adair” place a second (totally unnecessary) telephonic order for medical cannabis.

At around 1:45 p.m. another part-time delivery employee, we’ll call her Amanda, a 31 year-old female, pre-school teacher and nanny – herself a MMJ patient suffering from PTSD resulting from sexual assault – who has never been arrested – left the dispensary carrying (3) 4 gram packages of clear, lab-tested cannabis medicine for delivery to three different patients.

At that time – according to De Stefano’s arrest report – she was placed under surveillance.

Her first delivery was to “Adair” at 2011 E. 2nd St., unit 405.

After parking in front of the Condo building, Amanda made telephonic contact to arrange entry. “Adair” answered his cell phone and waved to her from the condo building’s front porch. (The entry doors are controlled by occupant key codes – unit 405 is not registered to Robert Adair – he couldn’t get in). He made the excuse that management didn’t like deliveries made inside the building.

Amanda identified him as the patient, provided the 4 grams of cannabis medicine he ordered, collected $60 and went on her way – only to be pulled over and surrounded by three black and whites and one undercover police car within a few blocks.

“Get out of the car!”

“What for?”

“Because you’re under arrest.”

“What for?”

“Just get the f*** out of the car!”

Reasonable – legal – questions were not allowed.

She got out of the car, followed orders to put her hands on the hood, a male officer patted her down, searched her pockets and put her in the backseat of Detective C. Thue’s undercover vehicle, while the other officers searched her vehicle and came up with the other two 4 gram parcels of medical cannabis packaged for delivery.

Thue read Amanda her Miranda Rights, established she worked for the One Love Dispensary; LBPD Lieutenant Pennino identified her as the person leaving the dispensary; De Stefano identified her as the person who sold “Adair’ the MMJ and “Adair” identified her as the person who sold him the marijuana and thus they concluded – as written in the arrest report – that, “This is an indication “Amanda” was transporting marijuana for sale for One Love.”

During all of this, Amanda’s friend, we’ll call her Judy, happened to walk past, saw her in the backseat of the undercover car and asked, “What’s up?”

Judy was detained. Her cell phone confiscated and she was made to sit on the curb for the next twenty minutes while the team who had Amanda in custody awaited word that the 20-officer raiding party had made entry at the dispensary.

Judy was then released.

Prior to booking Detective Thue said to Amanda, “I feel bad for you because they (the Abrams family) are just using you.”

Thue then booked her for 11360 (a) of the Health and Safety Code – a felony punishable by two, three or four years in state prison.

Thue apparently can’t read the law – or he chose to use the Woo/Bybee School of legal interpretation.

Amanda had the 4 grams she delivered to “Adair” and the other 2 packages totaling 8 grams – for a grand total of 12 grams.

Section 11360 (b) of the Health and Safety code says that if the amount is less than 28.5 grams the person is guilty of a misdemeanor with a punishment by fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).

Detective Thue could have written Amanda a citation and released her ( as was done to the four persons at the dispensary following the 20-officer raid and seizure of $25,000 worth of cannabis product). Instead he booked her for a felony with a bail schedule of $20,000 – which begs the question: Who was using whom?

At this point Amanda’s only hope was to count on the good sense of the District Attorney’s Office to make right this flawed application of the law – while Jeff Abrams dug up the $20,000 needed to bail her out of jail.

In most places in California, the D.A. would reject a felony filing and – at the most – direct the drug warriors to see their city prosecutor to file the $100 misdemeanor.

But, that doesn’t happen in Long Beach. Enter Amy Wilton, deputy district attorney.

Ms. Wilton filed a felony complaint with the Superior Court at the request of an investigating LBPD officer named Christopher Valdez acting as the declarant and complainant. Apparently with no questions asked, as not one of the reports submitted to D.D.A. Wilton addressed the weight of the cannabis.

So, once again that shiny new Court building in downtown Long Beach has demonstrated itself to be cozy quarters for a cartel of cops, prosecutors and judges – who fail in their duty to check and balance one another in favor of forging hammers that pummel people into plea bargains or prison so they can put check marks in the win – rather than the justice – column.

The city council ignored the will of the people, a judge signed off on an almost laughable declaration supporting a search warrant, the LBPD unnecessarily used the heaviest hammer (and massive resources) in their toolbox to put a felony tag on a contributing member of the community and the District Attorney ignored the law in favor of the “police/prosecutor relationship” – all while a compassionate Jeff Abrams put up another stack of money for attorney’s fees (in addition to the $20,000 bail) to defend against the giant hammer blow our so-called criminal justice guardians collectively – and unjustly – delivered to a woman they could have let go, or at the worst, issued a misdemeanor citation.

But that’s justice in Long Beach.


Stephen Downing is a retired LAPD deputy chief of police and a resident of Long Beach.



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