Lead photo via Wikimedia Commons
A trio of Southern California police officers are finally getting a taste of their own medicine. More than two years after the narcs were caught on tape smashing security cameras and stealing what appeared to be infused edibles during a raid on Santa Ana’s Sky High Holistic medical marijuana dispensary, all three crooked cops have now been sentenced to perform community service as punishment for their crimes.
In May 2015, officers Jorge Arroyo, Nicole Lynn Quijas, and Brandon Sontag served a search warrant to dispensary Sky High Holistic before confiscating the store’s product and breaking five security cameras. But while the ski mask-clad cops thought that they had taken out the dispensary’s entire surveillance system, they were mistaken, with at least two cameras recording the whole course of events.
Instead of bagging the goods, making arrests, and leaving, the closed circuit cameras show Arroyo, Quijas, and Sontag tearing apart the shop’s electronics, ridiculing a disabled dispensary volunteer and eating what appears to be cannabis edibles.
According to the Orange County Register, during the investigation and court case that has followed, the disgraced officers and charging prosecutors both agreed that the snacks were not indeed infused edibles, but instead protein bars stolen from the dispensary’s break room. It may not be the egregious on-duty hypocrisy that we and other news outlets had once assumed, but it is still theft, a crime in the eyes of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
After the 2015 raid, Sky High Holistic received a $100,000 settlement from the city of Santa Ana as compensation for the officers’ unbecoming conduct and has since re-opened, continuing operations to this day.
As for the hungry cops, an original move by then-Santa Ana police Chief Carlos Rojas to fire the petty thieves has since been overturned by court appeals, with all three officers still on the beat.
But even with their badges intact, Arroyo, Quijas, and Sontag aren’t getting off that easy. Earlier this week Arroyo and Quijas both plead no contest to one count of misdemeanor petty theft, and were each sentenced to 40 hours of community service.
Sontag, who can be seen on tape breaking the dispensary’s security cameras, plead no contest to one count of misdemeanor petty theft and one count of misdemeanor vandalism, and was sentenced to perform 80 hours of community service and pay full restitution for the cameras, each of which was valued between $80-$100.
The no contest pleas mean none of the officers have formally admitted to their crimes, but we’re guessing a few weeks of roadside trash pick-up will have a comparably shameful effect.
This isn’t the first time law enforcement officers have been caught behaving badly around marijuana, either. Earlier this summer, a police officer in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was arrested for growing weed at his home, and an even more daring California drug cop was caught half-way across the country trying to transport 200-plus pounds of reefer over state lines. And earlier this year, a Seattle lawman was also caught up in an interstate trafficking ring.
Needless to say, none of those former cops have been re-instated to their respective forces, but if you’re driving along the highway in Santa Ana, CA over the next couple months and see a shiny badge peeking out from behind some orange community clean-up vests, make sure to give Officers Arroyo, Quijas, and Sontag a big wave and a smile.
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