Tensions high in hearing for man charged with operating illegal marijuana club in Bay City
Published - The Bay City Times
BAY CITY — Sparks flew Wednesday afternoon when a Bay City lawyer accused police of breaking the law in their investigation of an area medical marijuana compassion club.
“My client is charged with a felony and they’re the ones committing crimes,” said attorney Edward M. Czuprynski during the preliminary examination of Joshua P. Perry, 26, pointing at Officer Tonya Laubscher during the exclamation.
Laubscher, an officer with the Midland Police Department, testified she acted as an undercover agent of the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team, or BAYANET, on Sept. 26 when she entered Beacon of Light Compassion Center, 100 N. Catherine St. in Bay City. Laubscher said she used a driver’s license with an alias and a fraudulent doctor’s certification to buy marijuana from the club.
Laubscher said she bought 1 gram of the XXX strain of marijuana for less than $20. The pot was handed to her by Perry, she said.
Czuprynski claimed officers’ use of such fraudulent documentation is inherently illegal. Bay County Assistant Prosecutor Jordan E. Case countered that police can use deception against criminal suspects prior to court proceedings.
Czuprynski also took issue with Laubscher appearing to smirk during his cross-examination of her.
At another point, Case argued that Czuprynski was using the hearing as a platform to speak out against BAYANET — whom Czuprynski recently publicly denounced — rather than focusing on the issue at hand. When District Judge Timothy J. Kelly advised Czuprynski to stay on task, Czuprynski responded that he’d take up the matter with the federal government.
Laubscher said she identified Perry as the one who sold her the marijuana after seeing a Secretary of State photo of him. When Czuprynski asked if she could state with absolute certainty if Perry was the same man, she said she could not.
The hearing ended with Kelly binding Perry over to circuit court on single counts of conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to deliver and manufacturing marijuana.
Kelly said Perry had twice tested positive for marijuana use since his Dec. 12 arraignment, in violation of his bond. Czuprynski initially said it is Perry’s right as a medical marijuana patient to use the substance, but later said Perry as a long-term user still had THC in his system when the judge implied he would revoke Perry’s bond if he was continuing to use marijuana. Perry remains free on bond.
Johnnie V. and Corey R. Randall, Perry’s codefendants and the owners of Beacon of Light, are facing a combined 16 counts in connection with their operation of the club. They waived their right to a preliminary examination and were bound over to circuit court.
Attorney Donna Beasley-Gibson, representing the Randalls, has said the center only accepts donations and staff does not dispense marijuana unless a patient provides the necessary documentation.
Another trio charged with illegally operating a Bay City compassion club — Terry L. and Peggy Horner and Ernest Rahn — also waived their right to preliminary hearings and were bound over to circuit court. The Horners and Rahn sold marijuana from E.T. Education & Compassion Club, 316 S. Henry St. in Bay City, police have said.
A state Court of Appeals ruled in August that “patient-to-patient sales” of medical marijuana is prohibited.