Home > Uncategorized > Humboldt marijuana mogul examined

Humboldt marijuana mogul examined

vilica-farmThe San Francisco Recorder has an exposé on indicted pot prince Josh Hedlund:

According to prosecutors, Hedlund’s agricultural land buys are part of his overall strategy to make money from marijuana: The developer secured thousands of acres from defunct timber companies, sold them to buyers with criminal histories, and cloaked the transactions with LLCs.

TPZ anyone?

In response, Hedlund says he required his buyers to sign prohibitions against growing weed. But the government maintains in sentencing papers that Hedlund loaned money to his buyers knowing it would be repaid in marijuana proceeds; the DEA has consistently observed marijuana grows on the properties.

[Hedlund’s former business partner, attorney Steve] Schectman, who keeps offices in Arcata and Los Angeles, is well known for representing pot dispensaries — he’s led the fight against DEA pressure on landlords who rent to co-ops. But Schectman first made a name for himself in Humboldt County prosecuting environmental claims against the timber industry, and it was his credibility in this arena that Hedlund says he found valuable.

The article touches on the breakdown of the Hedlund-Schectman relationship.  Hedlund alluded to the rift here on the Humboldt Herald last month.

Beyond Vilica, Hedlund and Schectman’s relationship is murky. In a letter to the federal probation office, Schectman said he took Hedlund under his wing as a paralegal and a clerk, and even tried to help him gain a State Bar apprenticeship.

However, after pleading guilty, Hedlund told the government that he had moved his office into Schectman’s “to protect [my] documents from seizure by federal authorities,” according to a DEA affidavit.

Hedlund entered his plea on Feb. 4, 2008, after preparing his holdings for forfeiture. On Feb. 3, Schectman resigned as Vilica’s president. Hedlund’s sentencing is scheduled for the end of this month; the government is seeking 63 months in prison.

Read the whole article.

  1. Anonymous
    February 11, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    “Humboldt Marijuana mogul”, Jeeze and I thought that was Ken Miller. Who knew.

  2. Anonymous
    February 11, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    other interesting excerpts from the Recorder article:

    Schectman said he took Hedlund under his wing as a paralegal and a clerk, and even tried to help him gain a State Bar apprenticeship.

    However, after pleading guilty, Hedlund told the government that he had moved his office into Schectman’s “to protect [my] documents from seizure by federal authorities,” according to a DEA affidavit.


    “We thought that Steve was especially qualified to deal with any timber-related litigation,” Hedlund told The Recorder . “Steve’s knowledge of the timber industry and local activists helped greatly.”

  3. February 11, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    That last sentence is strange. How is “Steve’s knowledge of…local activists” supposed to help?

  4. February 11, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Hedlund eluded to the rift here on the Humboldt Herald last month.

    err, wouldn’t that be ‘alluded?”

    al·lude (-ld)
    intr.v. al·lud·ed, al·lud·ing, al·ludes
    To make an indirect reference: The candidate alluded to the recent war by saying, “We’ve all made sacrifices.”

    [-luding, -luded] allude to to refer indirectly to [Latin alludere]
    USAGE: Avoid confusion with elude.

  5. February 11, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    linked, btw, h/t

  6. February 11, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    wouldn’t that be ‘alluded?”

    Thanks, fixed it.

  7. February 11, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    y’er welcome. :) Good find.

  8. February 11, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Kind of a puff piece, wouldn’t you say? So much meat they could have gone after… huge sums of money, the intricacies of the LLC scams…

  9. February 12, 2009 at 12:01 am

    The money factor is clearly understood. You don’t “secure thousands of acres” for chump change.

    The article is called “Pot Lawyers Walk Fine Line.” While it’s not a dissertation it makes solid points.

    As for LLC’s, that subject could use a thorough examination, but that wasn’t the point of the article.

    February 12, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Quote – “But the government maintains in sentencing papers that Hedlund loaned money to his buyers knowing it would be repaid in marijuana proceeds; the DEA has consistently observed marijuana grows on the properties.”

    Interesting how government won’t recognize government collecting property taxes while turning a blind eye on the same activities. The drug war is lost federalis- time to move forward.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  11. February 12, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Good business maneuvering I have to say.. :P

  12. Follow the Green
    February 12, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Schectman made his name being one of OUR DAs biggest supporters

  13. Auntie Mayme
    February 12, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Fasinating. Now I am beginning to finally understand the Villica Mess.

  14. Auntie Mayme
    February 12, 2009 at 7:36 am


  15. February 12, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Pay your taxes; help fix our roads, help support our schools, help educate the kids of our county!

  16. February 12, 2009 at 8:33 am

    taxes don’t go to “fixing” roads or building schools, every cent goes to private, offshore banks for interest on debt through fractional lending….not a cent stays here. all blood money collected goes to the bankers who send more notes of debt that you mistake for “money” for roads and schools.
    all the roads built in the Occupied united States were PRIVATE roads to start, until the government took them over- and much like Rome, use them for taxation and moving their army around.

    I invite you all to listen to http://www.freetalklive.com – maybbe the unwashed masses might learn something about how government is the sworn enemy of Liberty.

  17. humbeau
    February 12, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I bet its hard to smoke weed in prision.

    February 12, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Taxes are paid at the pump too.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  19. Anonymous
    February 12, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Wait! Hedlund to suffer consequences, but McKee to laugh all the way to the bank? For the 35th year?

  20. Anonymous
    February 12, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I went to the link – Schechtman shaved his head. It’s like Shunka for his North Coast Journal article. Shave your head and people won’t notice you’re a nutjob.

    No! It’s a new me! I swear!

  21. longwind
    February 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    10:53, Bob McKee is laughing all the way to the poorhouse. The county jihad has cost him, what, 5 years now? and I hear more than a million bucks, which doesn’t leave him with many.

    There was great perspective on this pot angle at the Garberville public meeting on Code Enforcement in April of last year. We learned that the Supes targeted 4 properties for special attention and enforcement from the pumped-up Code Enforcement Unit: two Hedlund subdivisions named Vilica and Schmook Ranch, McKee’s Tooby Ranch subdivision, and the decades-old Titlow Hill ‘shaded parcel’ illegal subdivision near Willow Creek that the county has been fitfully harassing since.

    It seemed that the county was targeting high-end pot-factory subdivisions as they saw them at their worst, while large timberlands continued to be liquidated and subdivided by Eel River Sawmills, Barnum and others at the same time, often no doubt to similar buyers.

    There are compelling public policy reasons to put a lid on that stuff. Could it be done fairly, or legally earlier on, without the air of selective enforcement that this list gives off? Dunno. Credit where it’s due: the county saw a real problem and started a program to deal with it directly, though perhaps not entirely objectively.

    As Auntie Mayme says, industrial pot presents us with a fascinating policy mess. I’m glad we’re tuning into it, it’s a huge and growing issue. When will the industry become so mature that people get paid not to grow pot?

  22. Not A Native
    February 12, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    According to the “logic” of the criminal/renegade/outlaw pot growers, everyone who has a legitmate income and generally observes and respects legal statutes is being paid “not to grow pot”.

    In other words, they see growing illegal pot is “normal” for everyone. So when someone refrains from illicit growing and takes a job, they are really being paid “to not grow pot”.

    Thats part of the antisocial ideas of grower culture discussed just briefly on the KHUM radio show today. A SoHum accultured kid said that to break the law you have to get paid. Anyone got a better definition of criminal mentality?

  23. bread(line) winner
    February 12, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    you say anti-social like it is a bad thing.

  24. paving
    February 13, 2009 at 1:00 am

    humboldt county has long known about marijuana and it has long known how to deal with it. these large-scale operations are about getting rich and that’s not what growing weed in humboldt is about. the message is and always has been clear: stay in your lane.

    i rejoice at seeing these morons getting busted for their big business and organized crime operations as do most pro-marijuana people in the county. the only people dismayed by these busts are idiots and those who are directly involved in the operations themselves.

    the key to a successful local, underground economy is to keep it underground and local. these people have failed in a basic way and i hope to see more follow them. humboldt will benefit from a new reputation, one that again tells people that outsiders are not welcome to come here and exploit the natural resources, whatever they may be.

  25. hcn
    February 15, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Oh yes Longwind, poor bobby? I feel bad for bobby. Just as I feel so bad for little mr. hedlund.

  26. Outsider
    February 15, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Paving says:…….humboldt will benefit from a new reputation, one that again tells people that outsiders are not welcome to come here…….

    I don’t think it will be a new reputation. I have been living is SoHum for 1/2 decade and the “Not Welcome” vibe is well established. When you go to apply for a building permit (and “exploit” the local resources) the humboldt county planners will even tell you that everyone living in SoHum is either a grower or works for a grower, and that SoHum is a horrible place. But then I guess that means they work for growers too :-/

  27. Beowulf
    February 17, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Friday 02/27/2009
    11:00 AM (r)11:00AM CRIMINAL MATTER
    CR06-00346 United States v Joshua Hedlund
    [E-filing case]

    Federal prosecutors are asking for a 63 month sentence? Didn’t he plead guilty to multiple counts carrying possible twenty year sentences? Seems some guys have all the the luck, others like Kite don’t have much luck at all. Guess that is what happens when you play step and fetch it with the law.

  28. N/A
    February 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    What happened????????

  29. Porfiry Petrovich
    March 1, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Great link. Great article. Highly informative. Quite interesting. Makes you think.

  30. Josh Had Land
    March 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Make you think about why the article didn’t talk about the offers to donate land to BLM in lieu of forfeiture.

  31. Anonymous
    March 2, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    now there’s a good idea! will the land be auctioned off, or ???

  32. Josh Had Land
    March 4, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    This is from the Wednesday, March 4th edition of the Recorder on page 5. The same publication that the prior article came from.


    A day after Attorny General Eric Holder announced a ceasefire in the federal government’s war against medical marijuana co-ops, Northern District Judge D. Lowell Jensen sentenced a real estate developer turned pot profiteer to roughly half of what prosecutors sought.
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Keslie Stewart and the probation office argued last week that defendant Josh Hedlund should serve 63 months for his ownership of a Berkeley warehouse in which police found thousands of marijuana plants. Hedlund also faced hefty restitution related to land sales in Humboldt County to pot growers.
    While Hedlund’s co-defendants cooperated with the government, Hedlund did not, Stewart said. Yet Jensen, who called the Holder decision “interesting background” sentenced Hedlund to 33 months in prison and lopped off $880,000 in forfeiture — a little less than half of the total amount – because of an imperfectly drafted plea agreement.
    “How can I say it wasn’t a fair sentence? I can’t,” said Hedlund’s attorney Santa Rosa solo Chris Andrian.
    Speaking after the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said he hoped the enormous cost of Hedlund’s defense – plus the prison time – would serve as a deterrent to others. But Russoniello said it wouldn’t be enough to deter Hedlund, who the government says continued doing business with known pot growers well after his indictment.
    “I expect we’ll see him again, and we’ll deal with him again,” Russoniello said.

    — Dan Levine

  33. Beowulf
    March 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Nice quintuple post Josh, but I don’t think it makes your point. After all you now must concede the obvious, that your sentence is extremely light. Also you would have us believe that the federal authorities whom you are so quick to disparage elsewhere are now telling the gospel truth? Is it not conceivable that a public statement confirming your non-cooperation was part of the deal you made? Regardless, you are a liar and a punk.

  34. wah
    March 16, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    White Christian Conservative is close to what I consider truth. With that in mind…

    It (pot) should be legalized where everyone or anyone can grow it for themselves.

    Selling is a different matter. Selling means the the grower can be inspected for salmonella and other things etc…

    Ah the day – that will probably never happen.

    Great blog!

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