A West Hollywood weed shop operator who once proclaimed in a press release that medical marijuana dispensaries don't get enough positive coverage in mainstream media was convicted for trying to burn a rival's home down, the L.A. County District Attorney's office said over the weekend.
Andrew Harrison Kramer, 39, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a home invasion, stalking, attempting "to burn," three counts of arson of an inhabited structure and two counts of regular arson, prosecutors said.
The victims were Kramer's former business partner, George Lanning, and his "entire family," including Lanning's wife and three adult children, the D.A.'s office stated:
Kramer plotted "revenge" against the main, including hiring people to do at least some of the dirty work against Lanning and his family, prosecutors said.
His crimes, according to a statement from the D.A.'s office, included the following:
Between July 2008 and April 2012, the family's Beverly Hills home was set ablaze on two separate occasions; a Lanning-owned house under construction on San Vicente Boulevard was destroyed by an arson fire; and two Molotov cocktails were thrown onto an apartment roof above the Lanning's medical marijuana dispensary in West Hollywood.
On another occasion, four males entered the Lanning's Beverly Hills home and struck Lanning's wife, Nansee, in the head with a metal bar and punched and kicked his son, Justin.
Wow. That surely harshed some mellow.
Under an apparent plea agreement, Kramer will do a whopping 25 years behind bars while also facing as much as $1 million in restitution.
The convict was associated with West Hollywood's Zen Healing dispensary, one of only four such shops allowed to operate in that city. In 2011 it was raided by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents.
Last year Beverly Hills cops and area sheriff's deputies served a search warrant on Zen. In a statement, authorities called it part of a gang-related operation that used "violence and intimidation" to both expand business and dissuade foes.
In 2012 Zen tried to make headlines by saying it was handing out a "gift of appreciation" - free weed - to U.S. veterans with proof of military service. (One L.A. Weekly commenter said "they reneged" on the deal but that, after she badgered the dispensary, it did end up giving her one-eighth instead of the promised one-quarter of marijuana).
In a statement, the dispensary also claimed to offer free meals for the homeless on Saturdays outside Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood. A church rep denied to the Weekly that this was happening and said the parish wished to have its name disassociated with the pot shop's claims.
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Kramer said at the time that he was "only seeking to make a difference in the community in more than one way."
After our coverage he sent out a press release lamenting the lack of positive coverage of marijuana dispensaries in the mainstream media. He mentioned the Saturday meal service as something that should generate more feel-good headlines.
Kramer was scheduled to be sentenced April 9.