Luke’s co-defendant, Ricardo Montes received clemency. They were charged together and are co-defendants. Please sign this petition supporting Luke’s clemency on change.org
Luke Scarmazzo # 63131-097
Tried: Went to trial in the Eastern District of California
Will live: Modesto, California
Children: One daughter
Charge: Conducting a continuing criminal enterprise and 2 counts of manufacture/possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and aiding and abetting
Priors: Misdemeanor failure to appear; one traffic violation.
Sentence: 21.8 years, (20 year mandatory minimum)
Incarcerated since: 2008
Years Served: 12 years
Release date: 7/29/2027
Clemency Status: Pending
Co-defendant Ricardo Montes granted commutation on January 17, 2017 for same crime/charges.
Supporters: CAN-DO Foundation, Freedom Grow Forever, Life for Pot, Mission Green
FCI Pollock, PO Box 2099. Pollock, LA 71467
Media: CAN-DO worked with The Young Turks on an “Injustice Series” that profiled Luke’s story in Episode 4 – please watch and share on social media.
New York Times featured Luke’s case on July 12, 2018 entitled:
Accomplishments: Mr. Scarmazzo has completed 22 different educational and vocational courses including Fundamentals of Welding, Paralegal Basics, and Public Speaking. He worked as a Quality Assurance Clerk in FCI Lompoc’s UNICOR Industries program and as a manager in commissary sales and inventory warehousing. He has used his time productively completing the necessary units to earn his Associate’s Degree through Allan Hancock College and he was recently awarded a position on Coastline Community College’s Honor’s List for the Spring 2015 semester. Only 1,080 students out of a student body of over 15,000 accomplished this impressive achievement. He also volunteers as an instructor to teach the prison’s “Challenge to Change” program which helps other inmates develop skills to successfully reenter society and not reoffend.
Details of Luke’s case:
In 2004, Mr. Ricardo Montes, Luke’s high school friend, was in a car accident and sustained multiple injuries including a severe fracture to his hand which required surgery. Because he developed chronic severe pain following surgery, his doctor recommended that he try medical cannabis. Luke was already a cannabis patient at the time. The closest medical cannabis dispensaries were located over 100 miles away in San Francisco. Seeing a critical need for this service to be located closer to Modesto, both Ricardo and Luke, former high school football teammates, decided to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Modesto. Together they incorporated California Healthcare Collective (CHC). They thoroughly studied CA state laws that pertained to medical marijuana dispensaries and honestly did everything to comply with them.
CHC opened in 2005 in Modesto and it was operational until September 2006 when it was raided by federal authorities. The CHC dispensary was providing a much sought after service to state-qualified patients, abiding by state laws and paying both federal and state taxes on business proceeds.
Federal authorities never alleged that Mr. Scarmazzo or Mr. Montes were violating any state laws but rather the federal prosecutors cited the Nixon-era controlled substances statutes in their charges.
During an extended trial Mr. Scarmazzo and Mr. Montes were not allowed to present evidence that they were licensed by the State to dispense marijuana. As a result, they were sentenced to serve at least 20 years in federal prison because of the mandatory minimum sentence for conducting a continuing criminal enterprise. No other marijuana dispensary owners have ever been charged with conducting a continuing criminal enterprise. Following their sentencing, two jury members spoke out against the lengthy sentences and provided court depositions recanting their guilty verdicts because of the sentences’ lengths.
Mr. Scarmazzo and Mr. Montes received the longest sentences given to any medical marijuana dispensary owners to date.
Future plans: Mr. Scarmazzo would like to return to the workforce as a journeyman carpenter and welder in the construction industry while attending night school at the local university to complete his Bachelor’s degree. He has two written employment offers to pursue once he is released from prison. He also has aspirations to start a small lumber business. Lastly, Mr. Scarmazzo is passionately motivated to play a prominent role in neighborhood youth programs, using his experience, public speaking training and community relations to reach at-risk youths. He has written commitments from community leaders to utilize his skills to assist in crafting positive community programs.
Georgean Arsons advocates for Luke Scarmazzo