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3 Santa Ana officers charged with theft in pot shop raid caught on video

| Mar 15, 2016 | News

via OC Register

By SCOTT SCHWEBKE / STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA – Three Santa Ana police officers were charged Monday with suspicion of petty theft during a search of the Sky High Holistic medical-marijuana dispensary last year.
Officers Brandon Matthew Sontag, 31, Nicole Lynn Quijas, 37, and Jorge Arroyo, 32, were charged with one misdemeanor count of petty theft, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said today in a statement.
Sontag was also charged with one misdemeanor count of vandalism under $400.
If convicted on all counts, Arroyo and Quijas would face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, and Sontag would face one year, six months in jail and a $2,000 fine, prosecutors said.
At 5:50 p.m. on May 26, Arroyo, Quijas, and Sontag, along with other Santa Ana police officers, served a search warrant at Sky High Holistic on 17th Street. Sky High was operating without proper permits to sell medical marijuana, prosecutors would say.
The dispensary had a visible 16-camera system and a hidden four-camera one. While the officers disabled the 16-camera network, the hidden system continued to record.
(Video after the jump)

Sontag is accused of damaging five of the disabled surveillance cameras by banging and smashing the camera lenses. Each camera was valued at $80 to $100, prosecutors said.
At various times, Sontag, Quijas, and Arroyo are accused of entering the break room and taking snacks available to staff, including Detour Simple protein bars and Mrs. Thinsters cookies, according to prosecutors.
The trio are also accused of consuming the food items and sharing the protein bars with other Santa Ana officers. Before leaving the premises, Quijas and Arroyo are accused of taking extra cookies with them.
While other officers ate some protein bars, there is insufficient evidence that they knew the food items belonged to the dispensary and not their fellow officers, prosecutor said.
There was no evidence that any officer consumed edible marijuana items available at the dispensary.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation interviewed multiple witnesses and reviewed more than 16 hours of unedited surveillance-video footage with the cooperation of Santa Ana police.

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