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Big Island marijuana advocate Roger Christie enters guilty plea

By Ken Kobayashi & Sarah Zoellick

Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:02 p.m. HST, Sep 27, 2013


Hawaii island cannabis advocate Roger Christie and his wife pleaded guilty this morning in their marijuana trafficking case related to a now-defunct Hilo marijuana ministry.

Christie pleaded guilty to one count of marijuana trafficking and two counts of failure to file tax returns for income earned in 2008 and 2009

Christie's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 22.

The marijuana trafficking charge carries a prison term of five to 40 years and each of the two tax charges carry maximum one-year jail term.

But Christie's lawyer Thomas Otake said his client will likely receive a five-year sentence and will only have to serve only six more months behind bars because he will be credited for the time he spent behind bars awaiting trial and because of the way federal authorities calculate prison sentences, Otake said..

In addition, under the conditional plea agreement, Christie will be allowed to appeal pretrial rulings to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals such as the denial of his bid to dismiss the marijuana charges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

If Christie prevails on appeal, the convictions based on his guilty pleas will be reversed, Otake said.

Christie acknowledged in court today his sentence is not bound by his plea agreement.

Sherryanne Christie, 62, Christie's wife and codefendant, also pleaded guilty this morning to a lesser marijuana trafficking charge which carries a prison term of up to 20 years, but no minimum prison term.

Roger Christie admitted this morning he was a leader of the marijuana trafficking conspiracy that distributed marijuana from his The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry (THC) in Hilo.

His wife admitted she was an "intermediate" leader of the conspiracy.

Under her conditional plea agreement, she will also be allowed to appeal pretrial rulings. Her sentencing date will be Jan. 27.

The plea agreement cancels the trial for the couple that was scheduled to start Oct. 8.

Roger Christie faced multiple marijuana charges related to his ministry, and has been in custody since his arrest in July 2010 on a federal marijuana trafficking indictment. Under his plea agreement, federal prosecutors will dismiss Roger Christie's other marijuana charges.

Roger Christie has maintained that marijuana is a sacrament and an integral part of his ministry, but federal prosecutors argued that his ministry was a front to mask his marijuana enterprise.

The income tax loss regarding his two federal tax charges was reported today in court as $7,100 in 2008 and $6,844 in 2009.

Roger Christie has become an icon among marijuana supporters who say he has been unfairly targeted. They point to the changing attitudes toward cannabis that include voters in Washington and Colorado legalizing marijuana for personal use.






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kainalu wrote:
Unlock your doors! We're all safe now! The wretched pot-preacher is guilty! Our hard-earned tax-dollars wisely spent! {sarcasm: off}
on September 27,2013 | 12:27PM
Sr_Share_Christie wrote:
God that's Great Please show us the blessing this situation and hurry we are safe, we are loved, all is well, THE-LAST-MARIJUANA-TRIAL.COM
on September 27,2013 | 02:29PM
Anonymous wrote:
Well even though I think the whole thing is ridiculous regarding pot, I will say the fact is he was dealing it so with the laws are as they are now, yes they're going to go after him. We need to change the laws to stop this nonsense.
on September 27,2013 | 12:57PM
Anonymous wrote:
The plea deal, has Mr. Christie pleaded guilty to one count of marijuana trafficking and two counts of failure to file tax returns for income earned in 2008 and 2009; OMG, he's a 'big time dealer!'................NOT, what a joke this has become, is this the best that the Feds could come up with? What a sham and a huge waste of finances that could have been put to better use elsewhere! Roger Christy is not a 'drug lord' pushing his merchandise in the State of Hawaii, but the Feds act like they have just taken down a 'Cartel Drug Lord' and don't bother going after the drugs being illicitly shipped into the country by the metric ton from South America!
on September 27,2013 | 08:05PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Ken Kobayashi and Sarah Zoellick are not Star-Advertiser Staff, they are HSA writers, unless u want your interns to be considered in equal footing with writers. Just saying, as we all have a chain of command, as the Captain gets paid more than the Sergeant.
on September 27,2013 | 01:32PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Thirty years from now maybe more than half of America will have legalized Marijuana. Never smoked it, never smoked even a cigarette in my life and just like McGarrett of the 1970s, never touch the alcohol, except a little beer for social consciousness. So maybe I am not like McGarrett then. Anyway, smoking and alcohol has done more to harm this society than good. What are the most prevalent ads shown during The Super Bowl for example? Here we go!!!! Hahahahahahahahaha !!
on September 27,2013 | 05:31PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Thirty years from now maybe more than half of America will have legalized Marijuana. Never smoked it, never smoked even a cigarette in my life and just like McGarrett of the 1970s, never touch the alcohol, except a little beer for social consciousness. So maybe I am not like McGarrett then. Anyway, smoking and alcohol has done more to harm this society than good. What are the most prevalent ads shown during The Super Bowl for example? Here we go!!!! Hahahahahahahahaha !!
on September 27,2013 | 05:31PM
Anonymous wrote:
I continue to be amazed at how the Star-sadvertiser uses misleading and sometimes erroneous headlines to inform the public, to sell it's second rate newspapers! What a shining example of media bias against defendents awaiting their day in court; as far as I recall, a defendent is 'innocent, until proven guilty in a court of law,' and what Roger Christy is pleading to, is not reflected in the headlines chosen by the Star ad editor! The Federal prosecutor had 3 years to bring Mr. Christy to trial, but did not, there by violating his rights of 'due process and a speedy trial,' as he sat in Federal detention! Once again, way to go Star Ad, you've got nothing but time and that headline is the best you could come up with?
on September 27,2013 | 07:58PM
cshaffer wrote:
The Fedreal government says that marijuana is a dangerous sutstance. Will some one from this newspaper please have someone from the federal government explain how marijuana is a dangerous substance. Will this newspaper have people from NORMAL "back up" the governments explaination ! The federal government says that marijuana has no medical value. Will some one from this newspaper please have Obama or other government official meet with the parents of epileptic children and explain to them that medical marijuana has no medical value. When medical marijuana is the only thing that works for there epilepsy This Christy case proves that this federal government does not have any respect for constitutional rights. The government makes it clear by there actions that freedom of religion is a "controlled issue" !
on September 27,2013 | 09:03PM
reedosan wrote:
Tough sentence for spreading joy!
on September 28,2013 | 11:04AM
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