California businessman and marijuana investor Matthew Davies has been sentenced to five years in federal prison following a plea bargain. Davies pleaded guilty last year to charges of conspiracy and manufacturing and selling marijuana, despite claiming that he had been wrongfully prosecuted.
Davies, a businessman who owns an upscale French restaurant and a property management company, was also a heavy investor in the marijuana industry. He operated seven successful dispensaries in the Stockton and Sacramento areas, as well as a 30,000-square-foot cultivation center.
Though medical marijuana is legal in California, Davies ran into problems when DEA officials invaded his warehouse last July as part of a widespread crackdown on dispensaries in the Sacramento area.
Davies was especially targeted, though, due to the profits he reaped from turning around failing dispensaries. The feds claimed that Davies used $117,000 of profit from his dispensaries, which were supposed to be run as nonprofits, to pay debts on his restaurant and another venture. They also pointed to profits he used to expand his business and invest in other dispensaries, calling his work "all about the money."
When he was charged, Davies hired former Clinton administration official Chris Lehane to run a media campaign to win the sympathies of the public. On his website, KeepMattFree.org, Davies is portrayed as a victim of contradictory laws, prosecuted despite his law-abiding work to help sick people in need of medical marijuana.
“If California had the gumption to remove ambiguities of our law, there is no way a federal prosecutor would have been able to prosecute me,” Davies told CalCoastNews.
Davies' wife Molly asked President Barack Obama personally to go easy on her husband, the Huffington Post reported last year, after the guilty plea.
"Mr. President, my husband is not a criminal and shouldn’t be treated like one," Molly Davies wrote. "Matt is not a drug dealer or trafficker. He’s not driving around in a fancy car and living in some plush mansion -- trust me. My husband is a regular guy, and we’re a regular, middle-class family. Yet even though Matt took great pains to follow state and local law, he is currently facing a severe prison sentence. This all seems so surreal."
Davies, a father of two young daughters, will begin serving out his term on March 3.