former employee to stand trial in fire at pot club

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by cradleofganja, Jun 29, 2002.

  1. by Ucilia Wang,


    A Willits man on Wednesday was ordered to stand trial on charges of felony arson and burglary in connection with a fire that destroyed the Ukiah Cannabis Club on May 25.

    During a preliminary hearing Wednesday to determine the charges, William H. Ryan, 51, was described by witnesses as a disgruntled former club employee who was found the morning of the fire inside the smoke-filled building the club had been leasing on North State Street.

    The fire cracked and melted the windows of the club's building and caused substantial damage inside.

    The club, which serves hundreds of card-carrying medical marijuana patients, has since relocated. The club has declined to reveal its new location, citing fears of further troubles.

    Ryan, who acknowledged he grew marijuana for the club, has denied setting the fire.

    But Ryan told police officers after his arrest that he was upset with the club's management because he hadn't been properly paid for his work, Ukiah police Sgt. John McCutcheon testified.

    Ryan also claimed that he was unhappy with the club because he was convinced club managers were peddling on the street the high-grade marijuana he had grown while selling low-grade marijuana to its clients. McCutcheon declined to be more specific about Ryan's allegations to police.

    His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Garry Preneta, argued in court that Ryan can't be charged with arson because it remains undetermined how the fire began.

    But Deputy District Attorney Dan McConnell said Ryan was found inside the burning building alone around 9 a.m., when the club was not open for business and he wasn't supposed to be there.

    Ryan was arrested after he ran out the club's back door, Lockhart said. Firefighters then re-entered the building to put out the blaze, McCutcheon said.

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