Man at center of pot raid tries turning himself in

December 16, 2011 6:15:33 PM PST
An East Bay man is trying to turn himself into authorities after a raid this week by drug agents. The agents hit his home in Danville and the medical marijuana dispensary he operates in Newark.

Justin Hammer walked into the Newark police station Friday afternoon to turn himself in, but police turned him away because they said they didn't have a warrant for his arrest.

Hammer is the CEO of the Happy Wellness Center, which was raided as part of a major operation by the Regional Drug Task Force. Agents also raided Hammer's home in Danville.

At the home, officers say they collected $40,000 and 20 pounds of marijuana as well as a shotgun and an assault rifle.

Keila Gonzales, the only person arrested during the raid, was at Superior Court in Fremont. Gonzales is the manager at the dispensary. The appearance was supposed to be her initial hearing for a formal reading of her charges, which include conspiracy and possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute.

Hammer's attorney says they've heard news reports that warrants were out for the owner of the dispensary, so they're trying to avoid the major scene that happened earlier, but when Hammer tried to turn himself in to the District Attorney, he was turned away.

"There are children involved," said attorney Scott Candell. "We don't want Justin being arrested over the weekend. We don't want a surprise attack with guns and badges like they did with the dispensary."

Hammer says the $40,000 he had in cash was going to go to the California Board of Equalization.

"They have the documents to prove that every dime of it was going there -- the police do," said Hammer.

Hammer said he is especially surprised by the Wednesday raid because police had helped them just a day before when someone broke into the dispensary.

Candell alleges the raid is retribution because they have sued the City of Newark for not issuing them a business license.

The District Attorney was not available for comment on this cause. ABC7 also tried reaching officials with the City of Newark, the local police department and the Regional Drug Task Force, but none of them have offered comment on the case.


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