Felony Charges Dropped Against Medical Marijuana Business Attorney

Felony Charges Dropped Against Medical Marijuana Business Attorney

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Updated:  July 31, 2018

We first brought you the story of James Slatic and his family some 16 month ago. It is a story about the destruction of James’ state-legal business in California, the almost-destruction of his family and the threat of serious prison time hanging over his head for the better part of 2 years.

In the end, although James’ business was wiped out and all of his employees were thrown out of jobs, authorities were ordered to return the assets of James and his family and the charges against James were greatly reduced.

The only major part of the Slatic legal story still pending were the felony counts charged to his attorney, Jessica McElfresh, who was accused of several crimes including trying to conceal evidence of criminal activity on the part of Slatic’s business. Now that case has been resolved as well.

McElfresh has entered into an agreement with the San Diego District Attorney that will result in her felony charges being dropped, leaving only a San Diego municipal code infraction. The terms McElfresh must abide by include staying out of trouble for 12 months, paying a $250 fine, going through a state bar ethics program and passing a professional responsibility exam, and completing 80 hours of community service.

I was able to reach James Slatic via email to get his reaction to the latest news. James took issue with some parts of the Voice of San Diego story linked in the previous paragraph, including the VOSD assertion that “[p]rosecutors alleged that Slatic and others had planned to illegally manufacture and sell hash oil across the country.” James told us that prosecutors never “alleged shipping ‘across the country.’”

Later in the piece is this section:

In one email exchange, Slatic asked whether applying for a cultivation permit on the same property was “too thin a ‘veil.’”

McElfresh advised him against that. She said officials were already suspicious of his activities but noted that they’d done a “good job of giving them plausible deniability” that their facility “wasn’t a dispensary” in the typical sense.

James told The Marijuana Times that “The emails regarding licenses and inspections and ‘veils’ and ‘plausible deniability’ make sense when you realize we were being accused of being an unlicensed dispensary. Which we never were. We were an infused product manufacturer and distributor and had a city business license for that activity.”

And while a certain part of James is certainly glad the ordeal is behind him and his family, he points out the futility and useless destruction caused by the raid happening in the first place. “We did not hide, paid taxes, had a 401k and health insurance for all employees and complied with state law and applied for and were issued a business tax certificate by the city,” James told us.

“At most this was a zoning issue that was dealt with by sending an armored SWAT team to a location where individual police and City business office inspectors had been to several times. 35 jobs lost, hundreds of thousands of tax revenue, for activities going on in 25 locations around San Diego that are and were legal.”

Update: After publication of this article, The Marijuana Times was contacted by Voice of San Diego Associate Editor Jesse Marx, who sent us a link to the original criminal complaint in the Slatic case that did indicate that prosecutors were alleging “shipping across the country” of cannabis extracts. The original complaint can be found here.

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