El Dorado couple seized in pot case

June 22, 2005

Denny Walsh, Sacramento Bee

An El Dorado County physician and her attorney husband have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Sacramento on charges of conspiring to distribute and manufacture marijuana and manufacturing at least 100 marijuana plants.

Marion P. 'Mollie' Fry, 49, and Dale C. Schafer, 51, were arrested Wednesday morning by federal drug agents without incident at their home in Greenwood. The arrests triggered the unsealing of the June 15 indictment.

OAS_AD('Button20'); The couple were brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter A.

Nowinski on Wednesday afternoon. They pleaded not guilty through attorney Laurence Jeffrey Lichter and were ordered released on a $25,000 unsecured bond for each of them.

The indictment had long been anticipated.

In September 2001, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the couple's Medical Research Center in Cool, their Greenwood home and a storage unit in Cool. The agents filled a rented truck with seized computer and hard copy files.

According to 2001 court documents filed in connection with the couple's challenge to the raid, the Medical Research Center was nothing more than a front for their distribution operation.

'It cannot be any more clear,' U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Wednesday. 'The sale and distribution of marijuana are violations of federal law. There are no exceptions.

'The United States Supreme Court unanimously upheld the federal ban on marijuana four years ago in its Oakland Cannabis Club decision and reaffirmed federal jurisdiction ... two weeks ago.'

DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Gordon Taylor added: 'We will not turn a blind eye to serious and flagrant disregard of federal law.'

The indictment says the couple's manufacturing and distribution conspiracy continued from Aug. 1, 1999, to the day of the raid, Sept. 28, 2001.

A second count places the couple's manufacture of marijuana within the same time frame.

Each count carries a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years.

According to court documents, prior to the raid an undercover agent telephoned the couple's business in Cool and asked if Schafer could represent him in a car accident case. The agent was informed that 'Mr. Schafer only does medical marijuana and refers all other matters to an attorney in Placerville,' according to the documents.

The documents also reflect that an informant who was trading information for leniency in his own case told a DEA agent that, during the time the informant was employed by Fry and Schafer, they supplied certificates for clients who sought to justify marijuana possession under California's Compassionate Use Act, a 1996 ballot measure permitting people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes when recommended by a physician.

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