It has been nearly 27 months since former medical marijuana dispensary owner and operator Charles Jeffrey Restivo was arrested for alleged cultivation and possession of cannabis for sale. Now, after many months of legal jockeying and the resolution of a somewhat related and higher profile medical marijuana case (i.e., former Hortipharm owner Josh Braun), Restivo has accepted a plea deal from the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office. Thursday afternoon, in Judge George Eskin’s courtroom, Restivo pleaded “no contest” to one felony count of possession of concentrated cannabis.
As a result of his plea, Restivo, who used to be the owner and operator at Pacific Coast Collective on Milpas Street, will receive three years of felony probation, two days in County Jail (which he has already served), and forfeits roughly half of the $15,250 seized from him at the time of his arrest in February 2010 during a multi-agency raid on several South Coast clubs and grow houses. Also, as per the deal brokered between Restivo’s lawyer Allison Margolin and Deputy DA Brian Cota, Restivo has the opportunity to apply to the courts for a reduction of his charge — known as a “wobbler” — so it could be reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge in the weeks ahead. Additionally, Restivo, who is a medical marijuana patient himself, will, pending approval from his probation officer, be allowed to use and possess the illicit herb for personal use.
Also in Eskin’s courtroom on Thursday, three other defendants charged with medical marijuana-related crimes — Brandon Fox, the former owner of a now shuttered medical cannabis club on Bond Avenue called Humanity, and husband and wife Timothy and Caroline Kurriss — all rejected plea deals similar to Restivo’s. The trio, who were among those arrested and charged during a sweep associated with Humanity’s alleged criminal activity in January 2010, are all facing felony marijuana possession and sales charges. Their cases were being heard concurrently with the Restivo matter.
Had the threesome accepted the terms of their individual deals, all charges against Caroline Kurriss would have been dismissed while Fox and Timothy Kurriss would have each pleaded to one count of felony concentrated cannabis charges with the “wobbler” condition. At one point during the deliberations, Fox’s attorney, Margolin, could be overheard telling her client that she advised him to take the deal.
The Restivo case will be back in Eskin’s court late next week for the debate on whether or not his felony will be reduced, while Fox and the Kurrisses will proceed to trial in late July.