BLOG: Feds Reveal Sham of ‘THC Ministry’
by Dave Smith
Roger Christie faces a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of 20 years, according to a statement today from US Attorney Florence Nakakuni.
Christie today pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants.
His wife, Sherryanne Christie, pled guilty to a similar charge but involving 50 plants or more. She faces a sentence of up to 20 years, with no mandatory minimum, Nakakuni said.
As part of a plea agreement, the Christies agreed to forfeit more than $21,000 in proceeds from the operation of the THC Cannabis Ministry, which operated in Hilo from 2000 until July 8, 2010, when they and 12 others were arrested.
Roger Christie also agreed to forfeit a condominium apartment on Kauila Street in Hilo which was used to facilitate their marijuana trafficking activities.
According to federal authorities:
- In 2008, an undercover law enforcement officer was introduced to Roger Christie and on three separate occasions at the Ministry, Christie sold quantities of marijuana to him (the largest being one-half pound).
- In 2009, the Ministry was open three days a week from 2 – 5 p.m. During this three-hour period, there were up to 70 customers served, and the Christies sold over one-half pound of marijuana “sacrament,” making about $1,000 or more in profit.
- They estimated that about 90% of the customers were Ministry members, while the remaining 10% had state medical marijuana cards. In order to join the Ministry, prospective members were supposed to sit through an orientation session with Roger Christie. However, Roger Christie said he scheduled membership sessions with passengers on visiting cruise ships who were in Hilo for one day, and one could also join by ordering a Ministry “sanctuary kit” by mail for a $250 “donation.”
- The Christies instituted an “express” procedure in early 2009, which made it unnecessary for prospective members to meet with the Christies or to receive any spiritual blessing/advice from them in order to receive their marijuana “sacrament.” Rather, as long as the customer could pay the full amount of the “donation” price and had someone’s membership card or state medical marijuana card, that person could acquire “sacrament.”
- There were “suggested donation” prices such as $50 for one-eighth ounce, $100 for one-quarter ounce, and $400 for one ounce. When one customer complained during an intercepted call that the quoted “donation price” of $400 an ounce was rather high, Roger Christie justified this amount, stating “It’s retail,” and “Normal retail. You know, we buy it, you know, at forty-five hundred, five grand a pound, so….”