News Story

 

Narcotics Investigators Arrest Three Following Lengthy Investigation
4/15/2016 3:05:00 PM

 

Nature of Incident:

Narcotics Arrests

Report Number:

15-2047763

Location:

11000 Block of N. Ventura Avenue, Mira Monte

400 Block of Bryant Circle, Ojai

165 Oaklawn Avenue, Ojai

Date & Time:

April 14, 2016   11:00 a.m.

Unit(s) Responsible:

Ventura County Narcotics Task Force, Ventura County Sheriff's Office, Ventura County District Attorney's Office, Oxnard Police Department, Simi Valley Police Department, California Highway Patrol, California Franchise Tax Board

 

(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent

City of Residence

Age

(S) Jeffrey Kroll

(S) Robert Hoffman

(S) William Macneil

Mira Monte

Ojai

Ojai

65

62

62

 

Narrative:

 

On April 14, 2016 narcotic investigators arrested Jeffrey Kroll, Robert Hoffman and William Macneil for multiple felony charges related to their involvement in an illegal marijuana collective.  The charges include money laundering, tax evasion, filing false tax returns, illegally cultivating marijuana, illegal marijuana sales, operating a collective within 600 feet of a school, and illegally manufacturing concentrated cannabis.  

 

In November 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which decriminalized the cultivation and use of marijuana by seriously ill individuals upon a physician's recommendation.  Proposition 215 was enacted to 'ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana.' Proposition 215 was also enacted to 'ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecutions or sanction.'

 

In January 2004, Senate Bill 420 became law and required the California Department of Health to establish and maintain a program for the voluntary registration of qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers through the use of a statewide identification card system.  This was intended to help law enforcement officers identify and verify that cardholders are able to cultivate, possess, and transport certain amounts of marijuana without being subject to arrest under specific conditions.

 

In August 2008, the California Attorney General established guidelines for the security and non-diversion of marijuana grown for medical use.  These guidelines provided the citizens of California a summary of applicable laws and provisions.  They also provided definitions for terms used in the laws, guidelines regarding individual qualified patients and primary caregivers, guidelines for marijuana collectives and cooperatives, and enforcement guidelines for law enforcement.    

 

This investigation began in September 2015 with the Sheriff's Office investigating several outdoor marijuana grow operations on Ocean View Road off of SR 150 west of Ojai.  It was determined the marijuana grows at two of the locations were being grown for the 'Shangri La Care Cooperative'.  Detectives began interviewing people at the grow sites and reviewing evidence at the locations to determine if they were operating within state law (Proposition 215, Senate Bill 420 and the California Attorney General Guidelines). 

 

Detectives determined the marijuana being grown at the two locations was for the 'Shangri La Care Cooperative' and was in violation of the law.  Detectives removed the marijuana plants and marijuana products from the two locations.  No arrests were made during the service of the initial search warrant pending further investigation. 

 

Detectives determined Jeffrey Kroll was the founder, owner and treasurer of the Shangri La Care Cooperative.  Robert Hoffman was determined to be the co-director and William Macneil was the delivery driver for the collective. 

 

In October 2015, search warrants were served at Kroll's residence and the Shangri La Care Cooperative office in Ojai.  Detectives located a marijuana dispensary set up at Kroll's residence with a large amount of marijuana, concentrated cannabis, marijuana products from other marijuana collectives, marijuana suppositories, marijuana 'keif' pills, and various other marijuana products.  Detectives also determined Kroll was manufacturing concentrated cannabis with the use of ethyl alcohol.  The manufacturing of concentrated cannabis with the use of ethyl alcohol is extremely dangerous and illegal because of the associated dangers and risk of explosion.  The dispensary and manufacturing of concentrated cannabis was located within 400 feet of an elementary school. 

 

Detectives began reviewing thousands of pages of evidence and interviewing members and associates of the Shangri La Care Cooperative to determine the extent the organization was operating illegally.

 

In December 2015, detectives learned Kroll and the Shangri La Care Cooperative were still operating in violation of state law.  Additional search warrants were served and additional evidence of the illegal operation and other participants of the operation were identified.  Detectives located additional marijuana products and evidence that revealed Kroll was still involved in the manufacturing and sales of marijuana products.  The Shangri La Care Cooperative, under Kroll's direction, was found to be operating in numerous cities within the Counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara.  Detectives contacted officials from those jurisdictions and determined neither Shangri La Care Cooperative nor Kroll had permits to operate or conduct business in any of the jurisdictions.   

 

Detectives served search warrants on multiple financial institutions utilized by Shangri La Care Cooperative, Kroll, JDK Enterprises (Kroll's private business) and See Noah's Ark (Kroll's nonprofit animal rescue).  An audit of the accounts by the Franchise Tax Board determined Shangri La Care Cooperative, See Noah's Ark, JDK Enterprises, and Kroll committed tax fraud and tax evasion.  A forensic analysis of Shangri La Care Cooperative's finances, under Kroll's control, showed he was laundering money from the Shangri La Care Cooperative.

 

Kroll and the Shangri La Care Cooperative diverted marijuana based products from other marijuana collectives and sold the marijuana based products, suppositories and edibles from his garage.  The marijuana based products were mislabeled, misbranded, adulterated, and not registered or licensed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  These products were being manufactured, stored and dispensed from an unsanitary garage without regard to the health and safety of the Shangri La Care Cooperative's members.

 

On April 14, 2016, detectives served a search warrant at Kroll's residence in furtherance of this investigation.  Detectives found Kroll had an active 'bubbling' concentrated cannabis extraction process occurring in a motorhome on the property.  Detectives found evidence ethyl alcohol was the chemical being used in the process.  At the time detectives found the extraction process, it was off gassing which is extremely dangerous and explosive.  Detectives immediately terminated the process and eliminated the possibility of an explosion.  At the time detectives located the active extraction process, children were on the playground at an elementary school within 400 feet of the motorhome.  The conditions were unsanitary and the end product, concentrated cannabis, was intended for Shangri La Care Cooperative members who believed their marijuana products were being made legally and in sanitary conditions.

 

In order for collectives and cooperatives to operate legally, the marijuana products must be shared with members within the collective or cooperative and not be diverted from one collective or cooperative to another.  Detectives determined Shangri La Care Cooperative, Kroll, and Hoffman were obtaining marijuana products from outside sources and dispensing the products to Shangri La Care Cooperative members for a profit, which violated the law and increased costs to the members of the collective.  Kroll was manufacturing marijuana suppositories, edibles, and capsules in unsanitary conditions and selling the products to unknowing members of the Shangri La Care Cooperative.

 

Kroll and the Shangri La Care Cooperative operated outside of the laws which were enacted by the citizens of California.  These laws were enacted to provide citizens in need of marijuana safe access.  Kroll operated the Shangri La Care Cooperative to make a profit for himself, which increased the cost of marijuana products to the members.  Additionally, the unsanitary conditions in which the marijuana products were being manufactured, stored, and dispensed jeopardized the health and safety of the members.

 

The investigation also revealed Kroll's nonprofit 'See Noah's Ark' is closely associated to the Humane Society of Ventura County.  Kroll was responsible for taking hundreds of vehicles donated to the Humane Society of Ventura County and selling them.  Kroll diverted funds intended for the Humane Society of Ventura County into the See Noah's Ark nonprofit rescue.  Kroll then used the See Noah's Ark funds for Shangri La Care Cooperative's and his own personal expenses.  Detectives have yet to find any evidence that See Noah's Ark animal rescue funds have been used to support its stated mission of rescuing animals. 

 

Based on the investigation, it appears Kroll misrepresented the See Noah's Ark animal rescue nonprofit for his own personal benefit.  It also appears that Kroll and Hoffman misled the members of the Shangri La Care Cooperative, who have trusted and depended on them to operate the collective within the law and ensure they received safely grown and processed marijuana.

 

Undersheriff Gary Pentis remarked, 'Mr. Kroll exploited the Compassionate Use Act and the laws governing non-profit organizations to deal drugs and commit fraud all for his own power and greed.'

 

   

Prepared by:

Sergeant Jason Hendren

 

Media Release Date:

April 14, 2016

 

Follow-Up Contact:

Sergeant Jason Hendren     805-383-8712

 

 

Approved by:

Captain Robert Thomas

 






 

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime.  The caller may remain anonymous.  The call is not recorded.  Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

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