Feds Sought "Shock" Value In Surprising Landlords With Forfeiture Threats

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for indoor-marijuana-grow.jpg
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made headlines yesterday when he announced that the Obama administration wants to reform federal sentencing guidelines so that judges will no longer send people to prison for lengthy terms when they are caught with a relatively small amount of drugs. The policy shift, while perhaps too little and too late to make up for decades of wasteful prohibition and generations of ruined lives, is being celebrated on both sides of the political aisle.

But meanwhile, Holder's Justice Department seems fit to continue its heavy-handed and hypocritical crackdown on medical marijuana in California, cracking down on countless collectives throughout the state, and threatening numerous landlords with asset forfeiture.
As the Weekly has already reported, one building the feds are targeting is owned by a couple consisting of a computer engineer and his dentist wife who now stand to lose their $1.5 million retirement investment property over a $37 pot sale.

Thanks to a lawsuit filed by that couple, a wealth of emails has surfaced that detail the feds' quest to rid Anaheim of marijuana dispensaries. One email exchange answers an interesting question: why would the feds routinely fail to send landlords threatening letters by registered or certified mail?

In a Feb. 12, 2013 email, one federal agent described a conversation he'd had that morning with a landlord who had no idea he was in danger of losing his property. The landlord, the agent recalled, "said he is unaware that it was illegal for his tenants to sell marijuana from his property. He also said he was never contacted by the government in reference to this property being used to sell marijuana."

The agent then asked his colleagues whether they had any record of a letter being sent to the landlord. In response, another agent chimed in and claimed that he'd just hand-delivered a letter to the landlord, stating that it had been mailed the previous year. "He said he never got it but the tenants moved out around the time the letter was dated."

Responding to that exchange, Greg Parham, who was supervising federal asset forfeiture efforts earlier this year, thanks everyone for their hard work and bluntly states that "we have made a strategic decision not to send our warning letters out via certified or registered mail."

Why would the feds deliberately not make every effort to insure that landlords are notified in a timely and reliable manner that their buildings are being targeted?

For "shock value," Parham's replacement, Steven Welk, allegedly told attorney Matt J. Pappas in a courtroom conference earlier this year.

"Mr. Welk told me he intentionally did not send warning letters to [three of my clients] ahead of filing forfeiture actions against their properties," Pappas claimed in a July 23 letter to U.S. attorney Andre Birotte. "Just days after receiving the lis pendens and notice of the federal lawsuit to take her property, [one landlord] went to the hospital for cardiac issues because of the stress. Her husband . . . told me multiple times he wasn't breaking any laws when I first met him."

Another client was "inconsolable" after learning the feds planned to seize his building. "After a couple of months and the immense stress, [he] looks like he's aged twenty years, Pappas wrote, while another landlord "cried" during his first meeting with her. One pair of landlords, Pappas told Birotte was an elderly couple; the husband "has terminal cancer and is now in the hospital. Yet Mr. Welk wanted the 'shock' value of filing against them without any prior warning notice by the federal government. What a guy."

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Greg Parham and Steven Welk are predators.   They are thugs.  They are harmdoers.  They are mafioso.    The fact they are US Attorneys is an outrage against the People and the Constitution.   

Someone should destroy their lives to the same degree these two scum have destroyed other lives.


Give this MF a piece of your mind-

 Steven Welk, Assistant United States Attorney
Section Chief

The United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
Criminal Division
Attn: Asset Forfeiture Section
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
(213) 894-6166

Jason W Buckley
Jason W Buckley

We need more dispensaries like we need more lawyers. I hope the Feds raid them all.

paullucas714 topcommenter

This is the member list of the State Assembly Committee on Health. Today this committee was bullied into pulling the bill SB 439 which would have set into law the Governors Guidelines on medical Marijuana that he himself wrote as AG in 2008.... Im working on getting the information on the Associations that are responsible for bullying a State Senator into pulling this bill. When I do, I will post heir information so we can blow up their phones and email boxes with messages.


paullucas714 topcommenter

Today State senator Darrel Steinberg pulled SB 439 from the health and safety committee agenda in the State Assembly. I called and no one could tell me why he did that either in the committee or in his office. I urge all concerned to call Darrel steinbergs office and ask him to restore it to the agenda and get this bill passed.

Darrel Steinberg 916-651-4006

paullucas714 topcommenter

 read this and see that the US Attorney intentionally engaged in psychological abuse of elderly and or medically dependent adults. That is illegal. 


@UptheRA Great info! Fingers are flying!!!!!! Does anyone know if there's a demonstration or petition or ANYTHING going to get our meds back? Not just the meds, but RITE GREENS MEDS. 


@Jason W Buckley ,   You hate dispensaries.  Yet you seem to think mowing the lawn at 7am is just fine.     What an a-hole you are.

You are an activisit when it comes to issues where no one is getting hurt or bothered, and you are silent on issues where quality of life truly is affected.    What's influencing you?    AM Radio? Fox news?  Your Pastor?   What sh|tforbrains has gotten into your head?


@Jason W Buckley Said the person who's obviously never watched someone die from a terminal illness. Maybe when you're sick, all the medications will mysteriously run out and when you get arrested some day, maybe all the lawyers will be sick. Sorry everyone isn't as perfect and healthy as you. Unfortunately there ARE people who depend on certain things in life and you hating on everything isn't one of them. Try some medical marijuana, might help that anger management.

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault