A North County duo who called themselves “Herbal Angels” no longer face criminal charges of illegally growing pot and possessing it for sale.
But one of them still has to stand trial for allegedly lying about what they did — and when they did it.
Superior Court Thomas R. Adams discharged defendants Eli Christopher Sheiman and Mariette Wingard from misdemeanor charges of illegal cultivation and possession for sale of cannabis in a written ruling he issued after a lengthy preliminary hearing, prosecutors said.
The pair were co-owners and operators of a pot-growing operation at 2761 Cebada Canyon Road west of Buellton, which members of the Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team raided in December 2019. They seized and destroyed some 3,000 pounds of dried and frozen cannabis products.
In his ruling, Judge Adams dismissed the drug charges filed against the defendants, holding that they possessed state licenses at the time, however they were obtained, Senior Deputy Attorney Anthony S. Davis told the News-Press.
Prosecutors contend they only were able to obtain the licenses because Mr. Sheiman allegedly perjured himself when he filed a false affidavit supporting his application to grow legal medical marijuana.
He was charged with two counts of perjury, and Judge Adams ruled that he be held to answer for that at trial.
Because the drug charges against Ms. Wingard were dismissed, “she no longer is part of the case,” prosecutor Davis said.
The perjury charges filed against Mr. Sheiman “relate to a false affidavit that Mr. Sheiman filed with the county on Jan. 18, 2018,” the prosecutor said. “In that affidavit, Mr. Sheiman alleged that he was legally cultivating medical marijuana on that property on or before the moratorium date of Jan. 19, 2016.
“Based on that perjured affidavit, Mr. Sheiman was able to obtain state licenses to cultivate cannabis,” he said. “On Dec. 16, 2019, Mr. Sheiman and Ms. Wingard were found to be cultivating cannabis on the subject property.”
They were charged with illegal cultivation stemming from their operations as of Dec. 16, 2019 “under the theory that the authorization to grow cannabis was based on (Mr.) Sheiman’s initial false statement in the affidavit,” the prosecutor said.
“None of the charges stem from any cannabis cultivation that occurred prior to (Mr.) Sheiman’s filing of the perjured affidavit.”
Mr. Sheiman pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of perjury at his Dec. 6 arraignment, prosecutor Davis said. No trial date has been set, but Mr. Sheiman is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 24 for a pre-trial readiness and settlement conference.
“If he is convicted as charged, the maximum sentence he could face is four years in the County Jail,” he said.