San Diego

San Diego County District Attorney's Office Ordered to Return Seized Money in Medical Marijuana Raid

Personal assets seized in connection with a legally operating cannabis business will be returned.

A civil court judge ordered the San Diego County District Attorney office to return more than $100,000 seized from a Kearny Mesa medical marijuana dispensary.

James Slatic has been fighting for his life savings and that of his other family members for 15 months.

In a third ruling, a judge ordered the DA's office to return the money from the Slatic's personal accounts.

In January 2016, law enforcement officers wearing tactical gear broke through the front door of Slatic's medical marijuana business and seized products, cash, and equipment.

Two employees were detained but released without charges.

"A nightmare. It's been so stressful," Slatic said. "Of course my business was put out of business."

The total seizure was almost half a million dollars. More than $100,000 of that was from the personal bank accounts of Slatic, his wife Annette and their two children.

"'Why did they take my money? I never worked there. I never had anything to do with your business?'" Slatic told NBC 7, speaking of his daughter's reaction.

A superior court judge ruled Friday that the district attorney could not hold the funds since it had not pursued any criminal charges for more than 12 months.

In part of a statement sent to NBC 7 by email, DA Communications Director Steve Walker wrote, "This latest ruling in civil court will not impact our ongoing review of criminal charges or the separate petition to forfeit the more than $324,000 in cash found at the hash oil laboratory."

Slatic's wife Annette said she's waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“It’s bitter sweet because we don't have a check in our hands yet," Annette said.

The coupple told NBC 7 there would be no check if it were not for the help of the Institute for Justice, a non-profit law firm that fights civil forfeiture abuse nationwide.

“The average person doesn't have that money so you will never have justice,” Annette said.

The money must be returned within five days. The DA's office will have a chance to argue against the ruling at a court hearing Wednesday.

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