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United States v. Dale Schafer and Marion (Mollie) Fry (CA-2001 raid)

posted Mar 24, 2015, 10:31 PM by The Editor   [ updated Mar 24, 2015, 11:42 PM ]
Civil attorney Dale Schafer and his wife, physician Dr. Mollie Fry, began serving 5 year sentences on May 2, 2011 for cultivating medical marijuana in a home garden that never had more than 44 plants at a time.  However, the federal government added up the number of plants grown in the seasons between 2001 and 2005 and charged the couple with growing 100 or more plants, which carries a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.  The couple spent more than six years of litigation and three years of appeals for charges of manufacturing and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cannabis.

Dr. Fry, a breast cancer survivor who had gone through a radical mastectomy, grew her own medicine throughout her illness, surgery, and chemotherapy.   Schafer suffers from hemophilia and failed back syndrome, is under constant care, and also medicated with cannabis legally.

The judge wouldn’t allow any medical evidence. They wouldn't let us tell the jury I was sick, or that I was a doctor.  They wouldn’t allow that I was helping sick patients. Ironically, two years before the raid, local authorities asked me to tell them who of my patients were 'really' sick, and who wasn't." I told them it wasn't my job to police my patients, and that everyone who came to me had legitimate health issues. They have treated us like criminals.
~Dr. Mollie Fry

Cannabis is proven medicine. Why would the state of California create laws based on what the people want, and then allow the federal Government to override them?  I had cancer, we were growing medicine. I was helping people.
~Dr. Mollie Fry


Physician and Attorney Call Medical Marijuana Case a Vendetta
Couple questions role of local law enforcement, dismisses allegations.

A Report from the Fry-Schafer Legal Defense Committee
July 18th, 2005

Contact:  Bobby Eisenberg

An El Dorado County physician and attorney, facing 40 years in prison for allegedly selling marijuana from their medical clinic, are accusing prosecutors of building their case on a foundation of lies and law-enforcement bias against medical marijuana.

"I don't believe a jury of California citizens will find the conduct of these two people was in any way criminal", said defense attorney Laurence Lichter following the arraignment June 22 of Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry and husband and attorney Dale Schafer.

Fry and Schafer return to federal court at 9 a.m. on July 22 for a status conference before U.S. District Court Judge Garland Burrell.

Dr. Fry and Schafer contend that El Dorado law-enforcement officials encouraged the couple to open a medical-marijuana practice consistent with state law, and then conspired with federal anti-drug officials to enforce federal law, in direct violation of their state constitutional duty. Further, the couple adamantly denies the allegations raised by a prosecution witness, someone they believe traded false accusations in return for leniency from prosecutors.

Any trial will revolve around the issue of whether or not Fry and Schafer were protected by federal law during the period that the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club case was before the courts.

On the morning of June 22, El Dorado County Sheriff's deputies stopped and arrested Dr. Marion "Mollie"  Fry on her way to her medical office in Cool, where she has operated a cannabis-consulting practice since August, 1999. At the same time, El Dorado deputies took Fry's husband, attorney Dale Schafer, into custody at the couple's Greenwood home. After handcuffing Fry, 49, and Schafer, 51, the deputies turned the pair over to agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, who transported them to the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento.

At the arraignment later that day, the U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury a week earlier, accusing Fry and Schafer of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and conspiracy to grow 100+ plants with known and unknown persons. Each of the two felony counts carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison up to 40 years, a $2 million fine and four years of supervised release.

At the hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter A. Nowinski agreed to release Fry and Schafer on a $25,000 unsecured bond apiece. At the urging of Asst. U.S. Attorney Anne Pings, neither will be allowed to use marijuana, or the FDA-approved Marinol, while awaiting trial. Dr. Fry and Schafer pled not guilty and agreed to abide by the bail conditions. Outside the courthouse,
Lichter blasted the U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecuting Fry and Schafer for actions that were legal at the time under federal law.

"My clients are being tried under the new law for behavior conducted under the old law", Lichter said.

The arrest of Fry and Schafer followed a four-year investigation, highlighted by the DEA's search of the couple's Greenwood home, office and a storage facility on Sept. 28, 2001. The DEA seized the medical records of an estimated 6,000 patients, and confiscated 32 cannabis plants and an amount of processed marijuana from their residence. Schafer and Fry were both allowed to use medical cannabis under the law in California. At the time, Schafer was campaigning for the office of El Dorado County District Attorney, and eventually finished third in the race won by incumbent District Attorney Gary Lacy.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento met with Fry and Schafer previously in a pre-indictment conference, but was unable to persuade the couple to accept a plea agreement. Schafer said prosecutors broke their promise to allow the couple to surrender if an indictment was issued in an apparent attempt to humiliate the professional couple.

"We would have come down here, but they showed up instead with guns and handcuffs", said Schafer, who was cooking breakfast for his children when the El Dorado deputies and DEA agents arrived at his doorstep.

Fry and Schafer contend that they opened the California Medical Research Center after El Dorado County Narcotics Office Tim McNulty asked for their help in determining who in the county were valid medical-marijuana patients, and who were not. A deputy district attorney had also inspected the couple's personal cannabis garden to see that it complied with the county's standard. Fry and Schafer helped negotiate the county's 10-plant guideline along with other members of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis.

Schafer, who advised Doctor Fry's clients on the legalities of medical marijuana, maintains that El Dorado law-enforcement officials are bound by the California Constitution, namely Article 3, Section 3.5, to uphold a state law that conflicts with federal law, unless it is overturned at the appellate level. No public or private interest has sued to overturn Prop. 215, so California peace officers are duty bound to uphold the controversial measure.

"You can't work hand in hand with the feds and, yet, have a constitutional obligation to support the state law when it conflicts with federal law", Schafer said. "That's entrapment by estoppel".

However, at the same time local authorities were ostensibly cooperating with Fry, Schafer and other El Dorado County medical users, the county's application for federal marijuana-suppression funds painted a starkly different portrait. In a 90-day Status Report for the county's 2000-01 Byrne Memorial Grant of $171,100, El Dorado Sheriff's Lt. William Whealton identified the couple's cannabis consultations as "a sham" and questioned the validity of their patients medical needs. Here is an excerpt:
"In El Dorado County, we experienced an attorney/doctor team that specialized in helping 'patients' obtain the certificate that enabled them to grow marijuana under Proposition 215. This team then would supply the 'patients' with marijuana. They also conducted seminars in the growing and cultivation of marijuana. The process of obtaining a certificate was such a sham that we were able to send undercover officers into the office without medical records and obtain the certificate".  ["Patients" quote marks in original.

To convince a jury Schafer and Fry must persuade them to reject the testimony of two former employees. According to Schafer, the employees stole patient recommendations, and engaged in illicit activities they later blamed on Fry and Schafer.

"We weren't selling marijuana out of our office, that's an outright lie", insisted Schafer. "We've been smeared for years by what these snitches claimed we were doing".

Law enforcement remains antagonistic toward medical cannabis. Agents denied Schafer the right to take his pain medication before arresting him and as a hemophiliac he was forced to have a costly infusion due to internal bleeding caused by the ankle cuffs the couple were forced to wear during their entire incarceration of over six and a half hours on June 22nd. Upon release that day, Dr. Fry was devastated to learn that federal marshalls had lost her wedding ring and the crucifix the devout Catholic wears on a necklace.

Fry and Schafer are native Californians who led exemplary lives before coming to the attention of law enforcement. Fry, who earned her medical degree from the University of California at Irvine, comes from a family with a long tradition of practicing medicine. In fact, her grandfather, Francis Marion Pottinger was a leading expert in the treatment of tuberculosis decades before an effective treatment was developed and he employed the use of Cannabis before it was deemed to be illegal. Dr. Mollie Fry is a breast cancer survivor, having undergone a double mastectomy 10 years ago. Fry and Schafer have five children with three still at home.

Please show your support for Prop. 215, SB 420 and the Doctors, Patients and Lawyers who continue to uphold the Law in California and in so doing affirm the will of the People of California.

Rally at the Federal Courthouse, 501 I St., Sacramento this Friday morning, July 22nd, 2005 at 9AM.

We encourage you to bring signs that say things like "My Vote Counts", "Yes on 215", "Compassion Yes, Incarceration No", "Free My Doctor".

Donations to the Fry/Schafer Defense Fund can be sent to P.O.Box 634, Cool, CA. 95614

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Feds Raid El Dorado County Medical Cannabis Center (Updated Nov. 14, 2001)

Cool, CA. Sep 28. In the first federal raid of a medical cannabis clinic, DEA agents raided the office and home of Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry and her attorney husband, Dale Schafer, directors of the California Medical Research Center in El Dorado County, seizing all of their patient records.

The CMRC provided medical recommendations and legal consultations for over 6,000 Prop. 215 patients in California. The government is now holding all of their records for further investigation.

DEA agents also seized 33 plants and processed marijuana belonging to Dr. Fry, who is herself a breast cancer patient. Dr. Fry says that she and her 14-year-old son were thrown to the ground at gunpoint and handcuffed while agents ransacked their house.

No charges have been filed yet, pending further investigation. The government has indicated that it is interested in prosecuting Fry and Schafer, not their patients. It contends that the couple helped patients obtain marijuana in violation of federal law by selling recommendations as well as cultivating and distributing it from their garden.

Schafer admits that he provided marijuana for some sixty patients prior to the Supreme Court decision, acting in the capacity of a legal Prop. 215 caregiver. He says that he supplied it free to those who were poor and charged $80 per ounce (one-fourth the regular black market price) to the others to pay for the costs of a gardener.

Although the U.S. district court in San Francisco has issued an injunction barring the DEA from going after physicians for recommending marijuana, the order does not apply to cases involving manufacture or distribution. Also, Attorney General Ashcroft has appealed the injunction to the Ninth Circuit in the hopes of opening up yet more federal prosecutions of doctors.

A federal court denied a motion by defense attorney J. David Nick to have the CMRC's records returned, ruling that they were not protected by attorney-client or physician-patient privilege. U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell overruled an order by U.S. Magistrate Gregory Holllows that the records first be reviewed by an independent special master to screen out personal medical information in the patients' files. Burrell ruled that the government could review all of the information it pleased, insofar as there was no indication that the CMRC was engaged in any lawful business. Defense attorney J. David Nick has appealed Burrell's ruling to the Ninth Circuit.

The detention of Fry's records has jeopardized the legal status of her many patients. Some law enforcement officers have refused to honor her recommendations because she no longer has her files to confirm them.

The federal investigation of the CMRC had its origins in another, sizable cultivation case last year involving former employees and patients of Fry and Schafer. One of them turned informant and claimed that the couple were selling marijuana. The government put their office under electronic surveillance, and claims to have got a recording in which Dr. Fry told patients they could buy clones for $5. However, agents were turned down when they tried to buy pot from the center.

U.S. prosecutor Anne Pings described the CMRC as a criminal enterprise, permeated with fraud." However, Schafer and Fry insist that they were trying their best to comply with state law. Schafer says he consulted with the Attorney General's office and the Medical Board before opening the CMRC, although they were unable to offer concrete guidelines. The center opened in 1999 and attracted a large clientele through advertising and the Internet ( Schafer says the CMRC enjoyed a good relationship with El Dorado County narcotics deputies, who told him they would not have raided it except for federal orders.

"This is so much bigger than medical marijuana," says Dr. Fry, "The voters of California passed this law by referendum and have every right to expect it would be respected."


Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer Legal Defense Fund
PO Box 634
Cool CA 95614
(530) 823-0992