Christmas came early for several Bay Area law enforcement agencies today when they received a total of $1.2 million in cash disbursements for their roles in the arrest and successful prosecution of a major marijuana dealer in Hayward.
Internal Revenue Service Special Agent in Charge Scott O'Briant said, "We're glad we can share the ill-gotten gains of this drug dealer with our partners in law enforcement, especially in these tough budgetary times."
Authorities seized nearly $1.9 million from bank accounts related to a case involving Local Patients Cooperative, a medical marijuana store in Hayward that was owned by Shon Squier and managed by Valerie Herschel that was raided in 2006.
The IRS and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration split about $700,000 and the rest of the money was disbursed to other agencies today.
The Hayward Police Department and the Southern Alameda County Narcotics Task Force received $474,364 each and the Livermore, Vallejo and South San Francisco police departments got $94,873 each.
Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban said the money is "a true holiday gift" and called the funds "a significant amount of money."
She said the money will help her department upgrade its technology and buy electronic restraint devices and body cameras.
Vallejo police Lt. Kenneth Weaver said his department will use the money for training, equipment and fighting drug trafficking.
Drug Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Anthony Williams said, "The asset forfeiture program takes the profit out of crime and puts money back into the community through law enforcement" and said his agency will continue to work closely with local, state, and federal agencies in the Bay Area.
O'Briant said Squier opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Hayward in December 2003 with a permit that only allowed him to have three pounds of marijuana at a time.
But he said investigators later found out that Squier "was operating a sophisticated grow operation" and was selling hundreds of pounds of marijuana products.
O'Briant said federal search warrants were served at the marijuana store, which was located at 22612-22630 Foothill Blvd. in Hayward, two residences and two cars on Dec. 12, 2006.
He said officers seized indoor marijuana grows, hundreds of marijuana plants, marijuana-laced cookies, brownies, popcorn, pies, candy, two inert grenades, a large amount of cash and several high-value vehicles.
O'Briant said Squier, 39, was using money from the marijuana operation "to provide for an extravagant lifestyle that included homes, cars and motorcycles."
He said that on Sept. 4, 2009, Squier pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining a drug involved premises and one count of money laundering and
Herschel, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises.
According to O'Brient, Squier was sentenced in July 2010 to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit real estate, weapons, and cash from bank accounts totaling about $1.9 million.
He said Herschel was sentenced to 5 years of probation and agreed to forfeit a residence in Hayward or an amount not less than $85,853.
Bay City News