More charges in Hayward pot-club bust

June 05, 2007

Josh Richman, ANG Newspapers

Federal authorities have added more charges against the two people arrested in the December raid of a Hayward medical marijuana dispensary, claiming the storefront operation's purpose was avarice, not altruism.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's San Francisco office announced Wednesday that it had filed a new criminal complaint Friday against Shon Matthew Squier, 34, and Valerie Lynn Herschel, 23, both of Hayward.

"The Hayward Local Patients Cooperative attempts to disguise the breadth of its criminal activity by claiming that it caters exclusively to persons suffering from medical illnesses, when in fact persons without any medical condition can purchase marijuana at the retail establishment," the DEA's news release said.

Squier and Herschel were arrested Dec. 12 as agents searched the Local Patients Cooperative on Foothill Boulevard -- which Squier owned and Herschel managed -- as well as their homes and their cars. They were charged at the time with conspiracy and marijuana distribution.

"As a result of the searches law enforcement seized indoor marijuana grows, hundreds of marijuana plants, marijuana laced cookies, brownies, popcorn, pies, candy, two inert grenades, U.S. currency and several high value vehicles including a Mercedes, Hummer, Cadillac Escalade, Volvo, Dodge truck, (and) Harley Davidson and Ducati motorcycles," the DEA's release said.

Last week's new complaint charges both Squier and Herschel with one count each of conspiracy to grow and distribute marijuana; growing and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute; managing or controlling a place for growing, storing and distributing marijuana. It also accuses Squier of three counts of money laundering -- for using illegal proceeds to buy a house and a truck -- and Herschel of one money-laundering count, for using illegal proceeds to make a down payment on a house.

The conspiracy and cultivation counts each are punishable by a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison with a maximum of 40 years, as well as a fine of up to $2 million. Managing a place for growing is punishable by up to 20 years and $2 million, and each money-laundering count is punishable by up to 10 years and $250,000 or twice the amount involved.

Squier and Herschel entered "not guilty" pleas Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne Brazil of Oakland, and are scheduled to appear next before U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins on Aug. 9.

"I really don't know where it's going," Herschel's lawyer, Frederick Remer of Hayward, said Wednesday. "It's just in the preliminary stages, we just entered a plea."

Squier's attorney didn't immediately return a call.

Contact Josh Richman at or (510) 208-6428.

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