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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dennis Peron, Local Pot Guru, Cleared of Criminal Charges

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 3:25 PM

click to enlarge Free and pissed
  • Free and pissed

Dennis Peron has said it all along. For decades, the Castro District resident -- one of the fathers of the American medical cannabis movement  -- has maintained that marijuana is medicine. And for just under a year, Peron has been insisting that he's innocent of narcotics and child pornography charges leveled against him by the San Francisco District Attorney stemming from an Aug. 4, 2010, raid of the hotel he runs out of his 17th Street home.

Turns out he's right.

All charges were dropped Wednesday morning, he told SF Weekly

(a fact confirmed by his attorney, David Wilton). "I knew it was going to

happen," a relieved, but tired-sounding Peron said. "They couldn't meet

the burden of proof -- this case against me was completely fabricated."

Erica Derryck, spokeswoman with the DA's office, released the following statement: "We dismissed the case against Dennis Peron today because additional investigation of the computer forensic evidence does not allow us to meet our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."


far from forgiveness, Peron is offering more litigation. "They dragged

my name through the mud for a year ... and now I'm going to sue them," he

vows. "I'm going to sue [the San Francisco Police Department] for a

million dollars."

The dismissal is a turn of fortune for Peron, 66, whose 2010 was not a kind flip of the calendar. Prior to the August raid, Peron had suffered a stroke in April. The DA dropped charges, saying a trial would show that prosecutors "would be unable to sustain their burden of proof," said Peron's attorney, David Wilton. He added that prior to executing the search warrant, police said they would find pictures of nude male minors, yet all computerized images found were of females.

It's still unclear exactly why cops paid a visit to the Castro Castle on Aug. 4, 2010 -- police reports and search warrants from the raid have not yet been released. However, authorities found child pornography, a pound of marijuana, and methamphetamine, according to prosecutors.

Peron freely admits to having the pot -- "It was mine. I grew it and I was in the process of smoking it," he said at the time. But he long denied any connection with the drugs or the naughty pictures, which were of "fully clothed girls," Peron, who has been openly gay since the 1960s, told us. What's more, they were found only through a forensic search of a computer hard drive's deleted files on a machine used by a guest, Peron said -- and were pretty damn tame.

"These [pictures] were like Macy's ads," he says. "They manufactured a drug case and a porno case just to hurt me. For what reason? I don't know."

Police had maintained the charges against Peron were valid, even as it was revealed that one of the officers involved in the raid was a Mission Station cop under investigation for misconduct, according to a report in the San Francisco Examiner. Many other cases involving Officer Ricardo Guerrero, one of the primary investigators in the Peron case and a cop featured in the videos released by Public Defender Jeff Adachi showing police misconduct, had to be dropped, the newspaper reported.

Peron has admittedly had a checkered past with SFPD over the past four decades, which has seen him turn from a young illegal pot dealer to an older medical marijuana advocate. That ends here.

Peron pledged this will be the last time he will ever be raided. "I said that the last time, but now I hope it's true," he says. "I'm never going to give them any reason -- I'm only going to rent the place to rich Europeans; I will never rent to serviceable locals who might be doing drugs. I assure you, nothing but Boy Scouts here."

But he did pledge to return to court, this time as the plaintiff: "I'm going to sue them. SFPD, and anybody else. They soiled my name for no reason."

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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