HONOLULU, HAWAII Ð An indictment of 14 Big Island (island of Hawaii) residents on marijuana manufacturing and trafficking offenses was unsealed yesterday with the arrests of the 14 defendants. At arraignments today, a trial date of September 8, 2010 before
Chief United States District Judge Susan Oki Mollway was set. A federal grand jury had returned the indictment on June 24, 2010, but it had remained sealed until today. The 14 named defendants are:
- ROGER CUSICK CHRISTIE (age 61),
- SHERRYANNE L. ST. CYR (58),
- SUSANNE LENORE FRIEND (46),
- TIMOTHY M. MANN (58),
- RICHARD BRUCE TURPEN (59),
- WESLEY MARK SUDBURY (32),
- DONALD JAMES GIBSON (40),
- ROLAND GREGORY IGNACIO (49),
- PERRY EMILIO POLICICCHIO (50),
- JOHN DEBAPTIST BOUEY, III (51),
- MICHAEL B. SHAPIRO, also known as “Dewey” (61),
- AARON GEORGE ZEEMAN (42),
- VICTORIA C. FIORE (28),
- JESSICA R. WALSH, also known as “Jessica Hackman” (32)
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that all defendants are charged with conspiring to manufacture, to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants. In addition, the indictment also gave notice that the following properties are subject to criminal forfeiture as either drug proceeds or due to their being used to facilitate the commission of the offenses charged in the indictment:
- -Christie’s Hilo condominium apartment
- -Ignacio’s Mountain View residence
- -Policicchio’s Hilo residence
- -Turpen’s Keaau residence
- -$21,494 in U.S. currency
According to the indictment, Christie, with the assistance of St. Cyr, engaged in the marijuana trafficking while conducting the operation as the “THC Ministry” or “Hawaii Cannabis Ministry.” Other documents filed with the court reflect that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies conducted the investigation and used federal court-authorized wiretaps of three phones during the period from April to July 2009: the Ministry’s business landline, Christie’s residence landline, and Christie’s cellphone .
The indictment identified Turpen, Sudbury, Gibson, Ignacio, Policicchio, Bouey, Shapiro, and Zeeman as being some of Christie’s marijuana suppliers and growers during 2009, and stated that Friend and Mann were recruited to start a marijuana cultivation operation for the
Ministry. The indictment also identified Fiore and Walsh as Ministry employees at that time who assisted in distributing marijuana.
Other information filed in court reflects that among the recoveries made on March 10, 2010, as a result of federal and state law enforcement searches of a variety of Big Island locations were:
-approximately 845 grams of suspected marijuana from Christie’s and St. Cyr’s Hilo residence;
-approximately 1,108 marijuana plants from an area surrounding Turpen’s Keaau residence and in a storage room;
-approximately 856 marijuana plants from indoor grow rooms and outdoors in the vicinity of Sudbury’s Ocean View residence.
“Whether grown in a field or a house, marijuana today is extremely potent and dangerous,” said Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “The residents of Hawaii deserve to live without exposure to drug dealers operating in their communities. We will continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local partners to enhance the quality of life in Hawaii.”
The conspiracy and substantive marijuana manufacturing offenses charged against all 14 defendants in counts 1, 2 and 3 carry a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment term of five years, with a maximum term of 40 years. Sudbury (counts 6 and 7) and Gibson (counts 8 and 9) face the same penalties for the additional substantive offenses charged against them. If convicted of the charges in Counts 4 or 5, Turpen faces a maximum term of life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum term of 20 years. The additional substantive offenses charged against Ignacio (counts 10 and 11) and Policicchio (counts 12 and 3) carry maximum terms of 20 years imprisonment, while those against Bouey (Count 14) and Shapiro (Count 15) have maximum terms of five years imprisonment. Charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This investigation was jointly conducted by DEA, the Hawaii County Police Department, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Postal Inspection Service, and Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). In addition, other assisting agencies included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, the Coast Guard, the State of Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division, the State Department of Public Safety, and the Hawaii National Guard Counterdrug Unit.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael K. Kawahara.
SUBMITTED BY THE HAWAII US ATTORNEY’S OFFICE