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Couple could face decades in prison for pot charges

Foothills doctor and husband say they grow legal marijuana
By: Penne Usher, Journal Staff Writer
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Two Cool residents could face up to 40 years in prison and millions in fines, if found guilty of manufacturing and selling large amounts of marijuana. But the Cool professionals, a doctor and a lawyer by trade, say they are unfairly targeted and that the pot they were growing, completely legal, was allowed under the California Compassionate Use Act. Dr. Marion "Molly" Fry and her attorney husband, Dale Schafer, were indicted by the U.S. Attorney's office in June 2005. Their case is headed to federal court Aug. 1 in Sacramento. The indictment contends Fry and Schafer cultivated 100 marijuana plants at their home and "knowingly and intentionally conspired" to distribute marijuana. Schafer has hired high-profile attorney J. Tony Serra. The San Francisco attorney is well known for representing Ellie Nesler and members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA. Fry's San Francisco attorney, Laurence Lichter, said his client was a recovering cancer patient and used cannabis to suppress side effects of chemotherapy. "Her oncologist recommended she try marijuana to counter the side effects," Lichter said Tuesday. "It worked like magic on her." The indictment alleges that Fry and Schafer conspired to distribute marijuana and manufacture at least 100 plants. "God no we've never had a hundred plants," Schafer said Wednesday. "They'd have to add up multiple years of grows to add up to a hundred." In El Dorado County, where Fry and Schafer live, valid medical marijuana patients, with a doctor's recommendation, are allowed no more than 20 plants at one time. "From March 1 until Aug. 31, for outdoor gardens, no more than 10 mature plants," said Detective Danny Bears, with the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, "For processed, dried cannabis, you can have one pound from March 1 through Aug.31 and two pounds from Sept. 1 until the last day of February." Fry said back when she started growing marijuana for medical purposes, there were no guidelines. "There were no rules then about how many plants we could have had," she said. "(Schafer) put out a few plants for me one year and a few the next year." According to a DEA action filed in 2002, Schafer kept processed marijuana in Fry's medical office and on "several occasions, he sold processed marijuana to individuals." Fry and Schafer, both deny any wrongdoing. "There was never marijuana sold out of that office, - period," Schafer said. The DEA action claims that a federal undercover agent was able to obtain a marijuana recommendation from Fry's office without a thorough medical exam. "That is possible," Fry said. "An undercover officer may have been able to get a recommendation." Fry said years ago she would allow a patient 30 days to obtain their medical records. "I'm a physician," she said. "I was operating on the idea of psychiatric medication that would help people. I interviewed people for 20 to 30 minutes a piece." Fry's DEA certificate of registration was revoked, which means, Fry cannot legally write prescriptions for narcotics. A federal indictment filed June 15, 2005 with the US District Court for the Eastern District of California, contends that beginning on or about Aug. 1, 1999 through Sept. 28, 2001 the couple "knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other," and others to "distribute marijuana." Effective Nov. 1, 1996 voters in California approved Prop. 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. It provides that persons may poses marijuana "upon the written or oral recommendation no approval of a physician." There is no state regulation or standard of the cultivation and/or distribution medical marijuana. The establishment of any guidelines are left to local jurisdictions, which can vary widely. For example, Marin County allows up to six mature plants, and/or a half-pound dried marijuana. Its neighbor, Sonoma County permits possession of three pounds of marijuana, and allows cultivation of up to 99 plants, and physicians may recommend more for "exceptional patients," according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Web site. If found guilty of the charges of conspiracy and manufacturing, Fry and Schafer face 5 t o 40 years in prison, a $2 million fine, or both. The Journal's Penne Usher can be reached at penneu@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment on auburnjournal.com.
High-profile lawyer to handle Fry-Schafer case
Attorney Dale Schafer, of Cool, is embroiled in a federal indictment alleging he and his wife, Dr. Marion Fry, distributed and manufactured hundreds of marijuana plants.
He's called in high-profile San Francisco attorney J. Tony Serra.
Serra, who began practicing law in the 60s and considers the 60s the "golden age of law," according to his Web site, has been involved with several high-profile cases including Ellie Nesler and members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA.
Nesler, fired five shots into the head of 35-year-old Daniel Mark Driver, who had been arrested for molesting Nesler's son, in a Jamestown courtroom in April 1993.
Nesler was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced in 1994 to 10 years in prison.
The SLA was a self-styled urban guerrilla warfare group that considered itself a "revolutionary vanguard army," according to Wikipedia's Web site. "They committed bank robberies, two murders and other acts of violence between 1973 and 1975." The SLA also kidnapped Patricia Hearst.
"Perceiving himself in the role of a warrior," Serra has continued to battle for more freedom for more people through law," his biography states.
During the past 30 years Serra has spoken to hundreds of professional organizations on various legal issues in multiple forums in 14 different states.

J. Tony Serras noteworthy cases
  • Huey Newton Black Panthers

  • White Panthers

  • Russell Little SLA

  • Hells Angels

  • Chol Soo Lee

  • Hooty Croy

  • Ellie Nesler

  • Bear Lincoln

  • Source: pier51law.com.