Looks like some new info on the Hedlund/Schectman/Vilica mess
◼ CalLaw Law.com Pot Lawyers Walk Fine Line (image source)
How even THIS story gets twisted into an anti-Bush, pro-Obama thing I don't quite get, but the article is interesting: The Recorder's Dan Levine writes that ...(Josh) Hedlund's indictment didn't put the brakes on his real estate deals, though. And when he embarked on a second, monster land acquisition in Humboldt County, he hooked up with attorney Steven Schectman....
According to prosecutors, Hedlund's agricultural land buys are part of his overall strategy to make money from marijuana: The developer secured thousands of acres from defunct timber companies, sold them to buyers with criminal histories, and cloaked the transactions with LLCs...
,,,Schectman, who keeps offices in Arcata and Los Angeles, is well known for representing pot dispensaries — he's led the fight against DEA pressure on landlords who rent to co-ops. But Schectman first made a name for himself in Humboldt County prosecuting environmental claims against the timber industry, and it was his credibility in this arena that Hedlund says he found valuable.
"We thought that Steve was especially qualified to deal with any timber-related litigation," Hedlund told The Recorder . "Steve's knowledge of the timber industry and local activists helped greatly."
In 2006, three months after Hedlund's indictment, he had Schectman establish Vilica LLC, according to corporate filings. That company then bought 7,600 acres in Humboldt County. Schectman became Vilica's president and chief legal officer, according to documents filed in court. Schectman, who once ran for district attorney in Humboldt County, wouldn't answer questions about his responsibilities as Vilica's president.
Vilica ran into problems with the authorities. In June 2007, the federal Bureau of Land Management received a complaint about a new gate wrongly installed on public land adjacent to a Vilica parcel. Rangers checked out the scene, where they met two of Vilica's property buyers operating heavy equipment, according to a BLM incident report....
...Beyond Vilica, Hedlund and Schectman's relationship is murky. In a letter to the federal probation office, Schectman said he took Hedlund under his wing as a paralegal and a clerk, and even tried to help him gain a State Bar apprenticeship.
However, after pleading guilty, Hedlund told the government that he had moved his office into Schectman's "to protect [my] documents from seizure by federal authorities," according to a DEA affidavit.
Hedlund entered his plea on Feb. 4, 2008, after preparing his holdings for forfeiture. On Feb. 3, Schectman resigned as Vilica's president. Hedlund's sentencing is scheduled for the end of this month; the government is seeking 63 months in prison.
Grade? Slightly informative, but more of a puff piece on the pot traders than anything else. There sure is a sh-i-ite load more info on these two boys. And walking a fine line? More like cheating the system. I'd expect California's Legal News Source to be a bit more about the law, since the structure of those LLCs and what people get away with is actually pretty interesting.
◼ Assessor Parcel Information a 38 page pdf document
A million bucks in assets forfeited! AND his right to the 36 parcels, $5,803,000.00 + Eel River Saw Mill Vilica properties? Now that's a story! SO-O-O, if the property he is forfeiting was owned by Vilica LLC (president Steve Schectman), but sold (at least some of the parcels) to Paradise Palms LLC, who is out the money? Do the partners get to keep the property? How many partners are there? Are they all from this area? Who, then is going to pay for the abatements ordered by the Board of Supervisors? Sure it's the least of Hedlund's problems - does he go to jail?
◼ Mercury News - Man pleads guilty to massive pot growing, money laundering The Associated Press 02/04/2008
◼ sf gate - BERKELEY - 12 charged in raid of pot, guns, cash Saturday, May 13, 2006 - Twelve men face federal drug charges stemming from a Berkeley raid that netted 5,800 marijuana plants, a dozen weapons and $220,000 in cash.
◼ Guilty plea in Berkeley pot operation Man, 31, agrees to forfeit 7,000 acres
◼ Virtually identical article in SF Examiner Feb 5, 2008 8:22 AM (11 hrs ago) News Reports, AP
◼ Related post: Rules are for little people
◼ Related post: 36 parcels, $5,803,000.00 + ?
"If you get it by hook or by crook, you get a pass," My favorite Schectman quote