Medical Marijuana

Cops Caught on Camera Eating Dispensary's Snack Bars Charged With Theft

Prosecutors say there was "no evidence" the bars contained cannabis.

|

O.C. Weekly

Yesterday the Orange County District Attorney's Office announced criminal charges against three Santa Ana police officers who were caught by a surveillance camera eating what seemed to be cannabis-infused treats after raiding an unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary last May. Officers Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas, and Jorge Arroyo were each charged with petty theft for taking snacks from the employee break room at Sky High Holistic. The press release from the D.A's office describes the stolen items as "snacks available to staff, including Detour Simple protein bars and Mrs. Thinsters cookies." Sontag was also charged with misdemeanor vandalism for damaging five surveillance cameras by banging them against a shelf, a safe, a cash register, and the corner of a display case.

"While other SAPD personnel ate some protein bars," the press release says, "there is insufficient evidence that they knew the food items belonged to the dispensary and not their fellow officers. There was also no evidence that any SAPD personnel consumed any edible marijuana items available at the dispensary."

O.C Weekly's Nick Schou, who broke the story last June, is skeptical of the latter conclusion:

Right: No evidence whatsoever, other than the fact that the cops were at a pot shop, eating candy bars, and acting high. One is then left with the obvious conclusion that these poor officers are so underpaid that they have no choice but to munch down on pilfered protein bars while on duty. That makes so much more sense.

The officers' defenders initially claimed they were eating protein bars they brought with them, a story contradicted by the surveillance video, in which one officer announces, "There are some good-looking chocolate bars back there." At that point another officer goes off camera and comes back holding a bar that he unwraps and begins to eat. Later he directs another officer (apparently Quijas) to the source of the bars. She goes back there a couple of times, retrieving snacks that she shares with a few other officers.

Last July, Schou noted comments that reinforced the impression that the officers were chowing down on the dispensary's products. "These bars are pretty good," one cop says. "I kinda feel light-headed, though." Later a firefighter enters and says to Quijas, "You guys got that munchies now, huh?" She replies, "Mmm-hmm." The other officers laugh. In retrospect, the cops might have been joking about eating marijuana edibles while eating ordinary (but stolen) snacks, although it's not clear whether their urine or blood was tested to substantiate that explanation.

Sontag, Quijas, and Arroyo are scheduled to be arraigned on April 11. If convicted, Quijas and Arroyo face up to six months in jail and a $400 fine. Sontag faces up to 18 months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

After entering the dispensary, the officers disabled 16 visible surveillance cameras but missed four hidden ones. The D.A.'s office says turning off the cameras was consistent with "investigatory and officer safety protocol." But if the cops had done a more thorough job of eliminating electronic witnesses, their misbehavior never would have come to light.

Recognizing that fact, Sontag, Quijas, and Arroyo asked a judge to suppress the surveillance video, arguing that it violated their right to privacy. An Orange County judge had the good sense to reject that claim.

NEXT: Crosswords and copyright

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. ” The D.A.’s office says turning off the cameras was consistent with “investigatory and officer safety protocol.””

    Safety, eh? You can’t make this shit up.

    1. That makes sense. It is for their own safety that they disable cameras that may capture them engaging in blatantly illegal activity. After all, jail isn’t exactly the safest place for a cop.

    2. “Procedures were followed.”

    3. People are compelled to act goofy when they know they’re being recorded and that goofiness can be dangerous.

    4. They could be assault cameras.

    5. I would have prosecuted them for armed robbery.

      Anyone else entering a building with firearms and stealing property would be so charged. What makes these pigs so special? I’m pretty sure California law has special provisions for prosecuting persons who commit crimes “while armed”. In most states, those charges carry a mandatory 5-10 year sentence in addition to anything else.

      So instead of a few months, they should ALL be looking at 5-10 years — plus a few months.

  2. So some other police officers may have broken in earlier and left some protein bars lying around? Sounds legit.

    1. “there is insufficient evidence that they knew the food items belonged to the dispensary and not their fellow officers”

      That’s an awesome defense. It should work for anyone who steals anything. Whenever someone is caught stealing something, they just say that they thought it belonged to them. Then the prosecutor has the entirely impossible job of proving whether or not the suspect *knew* who owned it.

      1. Reminds me of the time a dude tried to carjack my mom – he got in the passenger’s side door at a red light and pulled a knife. Not sure how she extricated herself.

        Anyhoo, the guy’s defense attorney said that he had dropped his pen in my Ma’s open window and was just trying to retrieve it. LOL.

  3. What happens if a cop is caught drinking on the job or is high? Or are drunk, high cops ok in Libertopia? Asking for a friend.

    1. Does their employer have a “no alcohol or drugs while on the clock” clause in the employment agreement?

      1. I’m stretching here, but I’m leaning “yes” on this question.

        On the other hand, I’m their employer and I stipulate that officer’s not be drunk or high on the job. So at minimum, they’re fired. If the union doesn’t like it, they can go on strike. Then, as the employer, I’ll simply lock them out.

        Win-win-win.

        1. I thought the Libertopian police force was designed a little bit differently than the ones in the US.

          1. His description is almost the complete opposite of how US police forces work.

            *He’s* their employer – not their milch cow.

            He stipulates that they may not be drunk or high on the job – how many police forces do you think actually have that as a written rule?

            Cops could get fired.

            The union only has power over those who agree to give it power. Its solely a collective bargaining organization and can be ignored if you wish.

  4. So good news for Sky High Holistic? According to a Proscecutor – no evidence that there were any pot edibles. Just regular old cookies.

    1. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater now.

  5. Charged doesn’t mean convicted, and even if they’re convicted that doesn’t mean they’ll go to jail. I’m not holding my breath.

    1. They’ll plea down to “internal receiving of stolen property,” be given a suspended sentence, and have the whole affair purged from their record within a month. Then they’ll be awarded a commendation.

  6. C’mon, you guys. What’s the point of being a cop if you can’t be above the law?

    1. +1 Steven Segal

  7. Wasn’t this an episode of Barney Miller?

    1. Yes. A classic. I can’t believe Abe Vigoda “Fish” is still alive.

      1. What about Lou Reed?

      2. He died a month or two ago

    2. Moosshie moosshie mooshie…

  8. At 1:37 did you see what the guy in yellow did? What is that?

    So…work romance maybe? Do their supervisors know they are intimate?

    1. Yeah. That’s not even a nice slap. More of a ‘get your thumb out of my ass, Carmine.”

  9. Pro-tip: Always have backup hidden cameras in addition to the cameras which are in plain sight. Those extra cameras should be on a completely separate system from the main system, IOW you don’t want a monitor labelled “hidden camera in NW corner” to tip them off that they’ve missed something. Extra-paranoid tip: Have an easily discovered “secret” camera and additional not-so-easy-to-find cameras. Hidden cameras should stream via wireless to either the cloud or a recorder off the premises.

  10. there is insufficient evidence that they knew the food items belonged to the dispensary and not their fellow officers

    LOLWhut?

    1. And we have to keep this sort of shit in mind the next time we’re stopped for going five miles over. You know the shit bag giving you the ticket is pretty much like this.

    2. Adam insufficiently knew that the apple given to him by Eve was from the tree of good and evil. Eve is charged with theft of an apple, as there is insufficient evidence that Eve took a bite from a particular knowledge-granting apple. God may not expel either from the Garden.

    3. Scum covering for scum.

      What a bunch of dumbasses.

      But you know. Heroes.

    4. Scum covering for scum.

      What a bunch of dumbasses.

      But you know. Heroes.

  11. Where are the charges for theft under cover of authority? Conspiracy to commit theft?

    And a huge shenanigans call on destroying cameras for officer safety.

    Police unions should be fed into wood chippers.

  12. This just proves that we are living in a critical period of time….

    “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3 having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, 4 betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, 5 having an appearance of godliness but proving false to its power; and from these turn away. 13But wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.”
    (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13)

    According to Chronology, the Bible is 3,400 years old. Billions of copies has been printed, published, distributed, and translated into over 2,800 languages Worldwide. There is no other Book like it. Do you have a Bible Question? You can also visit jw. org which is available in over 700 Languages worldwide for more accurate Bible Teachings, tnx!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.