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California's SLO County Refuses to Investigate Citizen Complaint Against SheriffSalem-News.com
Citizen files Grand Jury Complaint.
(SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.) - In a letter dated February 3, 2009, Undersheriff Steve Bolts snubs California State law penal code 832.5 by neglecting to investigate Cheryl Aichele's citizen complaint about Charles C. Lynch's medical marijuana case against San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges and other department employees.
By law, the sheriff's department has to investigate each complaint and keep these complaints on file for five years. In addition, the law requires all complaints against Sheriff Hedges be forwarded to California State Attorney General's office because Hedges is an elected official.
Undersheriff Bolts maintains that the department has not broken any laws in this situation.
"It is the department's position that there are no violations of state or federal law committed by employees in the course of the Lynch investigation" writes Undersheriff Bolts.
But this lack of cooperation does not deter Aichele from following through with the complaint.
"I will not rest until this is investigated", replies Aichele in a letter dated February 5, 2009.
After contacting the California State Attorney General's office, Aichele forwarded her complaint the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's office and filed a Grand Jury complaint which included all correspondence with the sheriff's department.
Aichele's complaint questions the legality of the Sheriff's initiation to investigate Lynch since no complaint against Lynch or his dispensary, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers (CCCC) has ever been made public. It also accuses specific deputies of specific violations.
Aichele accuses Deputy John Blank of smoking marijuana with a Los Angeles doctor while providing false information to obtain a medical cannabis physician's recommendation.
In addition, the complaint alleges that Deputy Nick A. Fontecchio of returned marijuana to a paid-criminal undercover informant after an undercover operation. Aichele also contends the informant may be a family relative to Fontecchio.
The citizen complaint also claims that unnamed deputies went dumpster diving on private property to illegally obtain evidence without probable cause, permission or a warrant.
Aichele's complaint asserts that the SLO County Sheriff's Department used California tax payer money to do the forensic work in the Lynch case for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The complaint states the DEA was backed up with investigative work and would not have been able to get to Lynch's case for years.
Aichele also argues that the sheriff's department violated patients' privacy rights by doing this forensic work for the DEA. San Luis Obispo County resident Elaine McKellips has sued Hedges for these violations.
The only state violation alleged by the sheriff's department involves Abe Baxter a former security guard at Lynch's dispensary. Baxter has made a legal declaration to Lynch's judge that Lynch had nothing to do with any actions Baxter may have committed away from CCCC.
The citizen complaint concludes with a list of transgressions by Sheriff Hedges which shows a pattern of misconduct including domestic disturbances with all three of Hedges' current and previous wives, violating medical marijuana patient rights in other cases, wrongful deaths of marijuana defendants, and mishandling murder cases.
Concerned citizens interested in an investigation should file their own complaints via the sheriff's website: slosheriff.org.
Friends of Charles C. Lynch will demonstrate against the SLO County Sheriff's involvement in this case and the injustice of federal medical marijuana laws in California cases at noon on Monday February 23, 2009 on the Main Street side of the Federal Courthouse at 312 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles.
Lynch's case gained national attention after Reason foundation's the Drew Carey's Project created a Reason.tv episode featuring Lynch and Owen Beck, a former seventeen-year old student athlete who had his leg amputated to keep his bone cancer from spreading.
Al Roker interviewed Lynch for a MSNBC show called "An Hour on Marijuana" scheduled to air in the coming weeks. In addition, John Stossel from ABC's 20/20 for an episode called "Bullsh*t in America" interviewed Lynch and his Federal Public defenders which is scheduled to air Feb 16th or 20th at 10:00 p.m. eastern standard time.
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