The city of Compton is facing a lawsuit where a company is alleging former City Attorney, turned City Manager Craig Cornwell, served an improper search warrant to enter and seize marijuana from an alleged illegal dispensary in June 2017. The lawsuit seeks damages for violations of their constitutional rights.
JCJ Corporation filed the lawsuit in August 2017 after former City Attorney Craig Cornwell showed up to their location, with an “inspection warrant”, two months prior.
“My clients believe this alleged inspection warrant was not properly authorized by the court because it lacked an identifiable case number and was not stamped by the court with a corresponding filing date,” said Charles Cummings, attorney for JCJ. “During a hearing, assistant city attorney Jose Paz was unable to produce a copy of the warrant with a case number with a date stamp of the filing, or any receipts for the items seized as required by law.”
2UrbanGirls viewed video of Cornwell serving the inspection warrant which was signed by Judge Kelvin Filer.
The lawsuit describes that prior to the residents voting in 2018 to ban dispensaries, the city was aggressively “raiding” dispensaries where code enforcement employees, who reported directly to the City Attorney, would show up unannounced an begin emptying out the locations. During this time the cities chief building inspector was David Dent.
2UrbanGirls was able to review official email communications between Dent, and one of the owners of the store who confirmed they were making necessary adjustments to their operations, apparently at the request of Dent. The emails were to Dent’s official city email account.
“There were a number of raids taking place where vans would show up, come in and take your weed and money with no legal authority to do so,” said Michael Fletcher, co-owner of JCJ Corporation. “During this same time Michael Kimbrew got arrested for trying to extort money from dispensaries from his office in City Hall. We had no choice but to go to the FBI with our concerns.”
According to emails dated August 1, 2017, Fletcher told Dent, he had completed all of the necessary steps to bring his business into compliance with the city. Dent responded “these are the kinds of emails I like to see”.
Shortly thereafter, Dent was no longer employed with the city and Victor Orozco assumed his position.
City Manager Craig Cornwell declined multiple requests for comment.
2UrbanGirls has been provided a copy of a settlement letter, sent to the city’s lawyers, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, who are seeking to settle the matter before the case goes to trial 3/3/2021.Kalunian Letter 12 2 2020