Prosecutor Unhappy Medical Marijuana Shop Ringleader Was Released On Bail; But Is Secretive About Her Reasoning

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Stinkweed
[UPDATED at end] Prosecutors aren't happy that a federal judge gave bail to the San Clemente ringleader of an alleged illegal Southern California medical marijuana dispensary operation.

On Nov. 6, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert N. Block overruled Assistant United States Attorney Christine S. Bautista's detention demand for 56-year-old John Melvin Walker, who was named in an October grand jury indictment of 14 suspects.

Block allowed for Walker's Nov. 7 release after a person named Bill Barkovitz paid a $200,000 surety bond and the defendant agreed to a long series of conditions: surrender of all firearms and ammo, a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, no drug usage, remain in California and submit to random inspection by federal agents.

Bautista's reasoning for seeking to overturn Block's determination is unknown. She redacted her explanation from public view on a document.

Walker's response to Bautista's move is also unknown; his defense lawyer filed his reply under seal.

U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna will consider the government's detention demand inside Santa Ana's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse at a scheduled Nov. 29 hearing.

If Selna agrees with Bautista, Walker--who owned pot shops in Orange and Los Angeles counties--will likely be housed inside the Santa Ana Jail, where federal case defendants most commonly reside.


UPDATE, Nov. 29, 2012: Judge Selna held a hearing regarding Walker's release but issued no ruling and sealed the transcript from public view. He will resume fielding arguments on Dec. 6.

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