Joshua and Dayli Braun, facing charges of marijuana sales and money laundering, were released from jail this week after a judge dropped both their $1-million bails, figuring they aren’t likely to skip town before their preliminary hearing on July 13. The couple were taken into custody two weeks ago after detectives raided HortiPharm Caregivers — a longstanding medical marijuana dispensary on upper State Street owned and operated by Joshua — and nearby Pizza Guru, a recently reopened popular organic pizza joint under Dayli’s name and management. The Brauns’ admittedly high bails, said lead prosecutor Lee Carter, were a reflection of what he called “the amount of profits they made from illegal activity.”
In the search-and-arrest warrant served at Pizza Guru — signed by Judge Frank Ochoa on June 9, five days before the raid — city police officer Shawn Hill stated he’s frequently encountered the practice of funneling dispensary profits through more legitimate businesses: “I have found that owners and employees often must resort to money-laundering techniques in an effort to hide the profit made from [dispensaries].” In this case, he went on, the Brauns allegedly deposited large amounts of cash — that, say authorities, were made by illegal means (i.e., selling marijuana) — in multiple bank accounts. That’s where the washing comes in, said Carter. “If you engage in certain activities involving a banking institution, in other words, you take your illegal gains and you put them through a bank … that’s money laundering,” he explained.
In order for someone to be charged with that crime, said Carter, they have to deposit more than $5,000 in dirty money in seven days or $25,000 in 30 days. The warrant reveals a snippet of the Brauns’ bank records, showing that Dayli in 2008 deposited a total of $57,705 in a 12-day period at the San Roque branch of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, with deposits ranging from $6,000-$9,000 every couple of days. More recently, Joshua Braun — between January 6 and May 3 of this year — reportedly deposited $47,142 at Rabobank. Tellers at the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Hill also wrote, told detectives that the bundles of cash brought in by Dayli “had an odor of fresh marijuana.”