No criminal charges will be filed in connection with an illegal commercial cannabis bust that resulted in the seizure of thousands of marijuana plants.
Santa Barbara County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover confirmed the case was referred to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office on Monday.
But District Attorney Joyce Dudley said there was insufficient evidence to charge the owners of Carpinteria cannabis cultivation company Power Farms LLC with perjury, the only viable criminal charge.
Ms. Hoover said the company may face fines and administrative penalties that can affect future cannabis licensing.
On Thursday, sheriff’s detectives seized more than 22,000 cannabis plants Power Farms, located on a rented 18.76-acre lot at 1530 Casitas Pass Road.
Sheriff’s officials say one of the owners of Power Farms provided false information during the county cannabis application process and failed to follow proper shipping and manifest procedures.
Detectives served a search warrant at a Los Angeles County home that belonged to one of the Power Farms owners. They found several unregistered firearms, two of which were reported stolen, approximately 60 pounds of processed and packaged marijuana taken from Power Farms, thousands of dollars in cash, and other evidence. The owner voluntarily surrendered his state temporary cannabis license.
Detectives eradicated approximately 22,420 cannabis plants from three Power Farms greenhouses and approximately 1,420 pounds of dried or drying cannabis was seized from the Carpinteria property.
The name of the Power Farms owner in question has not been released.
The company’s statements of information were filed with the California Secretary of State on Dec. 21, 2017. They list Admir Aksalic of Sherman Oaks as the company manager and Nobu Jon Takashi of Carpinteria, Afsoon Fatemi of Pacific Palisades, and Yeojin Alloway of Chatsworth as additional managers.
Deputy County Executive Officer Dennis Bozanich said Mr. Aksalic falsely signed a document in December 2017 that stated Power Farms had been operating in the county before January 2016, when the county Board of Supervisors adopted the Medical Marijuana Regulation.
The regulation prohibited cultivation in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County except for two limited exemptions for small personal cultivation sites and legal non-conforming medical marijuana cultivation sites existing prior to Jan. 19, 2016 and legal under state law.
In August 2018, Tyrone Taylor, 31, of Lancaster, and Henry Jernigan, 45, of Los Angeles were arrested in connection with a break-in at Power Farms.
Sheriff’s officials say the facility was also burglarized in June 2018. In that case, four subjects held the security guard at gunpoint before fleeing with stolen property.
Power Farm’s neighbors say the business owners kept to themselves and the facility didn’t cause much of a nuisance. Except for the smell.
“It’s unmistakable and very strong. I’m not sure if there’s times in the year where it’s worse, during blooming or harvesting or something but you can always smell it,” said Cheri Meyer, operations manager at Norman’s Nursery, located across Casitas Pass Road from Power Farms.
Attempts to reach all Power Farms owners by phone were unsuccessful.