BY TRACY RYAN – The Reverend Roger Christie of the Hilo based THC ministry was sentenced Monday, April 28, 2014, in U.S. District Court in Honolulu. Judge Leslie Kobayashi following, the Federal minimum sentencing guidelines, sentenced him to sixty months on count one of his indictment relating to the distribution of marijuana and one year each for two separate tax related crimes. As per the defendant’s plea agreement several other charges were dismissed.
Entering the court in handcuffs and shackle the defendant sat quietly while the attorney’s argued about his role in the case. He was allowed to speak briefly on his own behalf and did so with dignity that impressed everyone as he read his prepared remarks.
As part of the federal sentencing rules Rev. Christie must serve a minimum of forty eight months before becoming eligible for supervised release into the community. The court allowed for this early release to take place and counted the almost four years in jail served to date against his sentence. The two other convictions carrying the one year sentences were allowed to be served as part of the four years as well. With these decisions Rev. Christie should be out of jail within a few weeks.
Christie’s attorney argued about the terms and conditions under which his client’s release would be governed. Rev. Christie wanted the right under his religious freedom to use marijuana as a sacrament and to take part in the operations of the THC ministry. The court separated these issues. Judge Leslie Kobayashi was clear in stating that he could not use or possess marijuana, or any other controlled substance for that matter, or participate in group activities with individuals who were in the possession of or using marijuana, during his period of supervised release. He would also be subject to periodic drug testing. He was not required to attend any drug treatment plan.
The judge did make it clear that the defendant’s rights to engage in political activity and church activities that did not involve the specific prohibitions outlined were part of his rights and would not be considered violations of his supervised release.
Share Christie, who had married the defendant while he was in federal custody, was sentenced following Rev. Christie’s hearing. Roger was not allowed to stay for this as the US Marshall had to have him back to the federal detention center by a certain hour. Share was sentenced under federal guidelines to 27 months in jail. The prosecution made much of arguments that she was the “money” person who handled finance and had a much more avaricious interest than her husband. Share was visibly shaken, but remains free pending appeal
In addition to the sentence the court levied a fine of $13,944 on Roger which was the amount of cash seized from his safe in the 2010 raid. This money was assigned to the IRS for back taxes. Roger was instructed by the court that he must make efforts to pay all delinquent taxes plus penalties and interest. The interest would not begin to be added until he was released. The condo where he had been living, which was a gift from his late mother, was also confiscated. How any funds realized from its sale would be divided among various federal agencies was not mentioned by the court.
Both Share and Roger hope for relief from the 9th District Court of Appeals in California.
Tracy Ryan is a spokesperson for the Hawaii Libertarian Party