San Francisco pot activist Dennis Peron's child porn case tossed 

Child pornography and drug possession charges against gay activist and medical marijuana guru Dennis Peron were dismissed Wednesday after prosecutors admitted the evidence against him was weak.

A year ago today, police raided the bed and breakfast where Peron lives, seizing suspected methamphetamine, Ecstasy and marijuana and computers they said contained images of child pornography.

In June, prosecutors were ordered to make a seized computer hard drive available for defense examination, but as of Wednesday Peron’s team had not received it.

At a hearing Wednesday at which prosecutors were expected to explain the delay, Assistant District Attorney Leslie Cogan told Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval that all charges were dismissed.

“After completing further investigation,” Cogan said, “the people have determined that we are unable to sustain our burden of proof.”

Peron’s attorney David Wilton suggested that prosecutors dismissed his client’s case “because they have a cop problem.”

The case was investigated by officers from the Police Department’s juvenile crimes unit and Mission Station. Several of the cops from the Mission have been accused by Public Defender Jeff Adachi of involvement in the theft of valuables from suspects during drug raids.

They and other officers accused of illegal entry and falsifying police reports are still under federal investigation and have not been charged. However, prosecutors have dismissed more than 100 cases because of officer credibility issues.

District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Erica Derryck said Peron’s case was dismissed due to “additional investigation” that included computer forensic evidence.

Derryck said the child pornography charges were the primary part of the case against Peron, and if he only had been charged with drug possession, her office would have dismissed those at the time of the misconduct
allegations.

The 66-year-old Peron said after the hearing that police have been after him for years because of his advocacy for gay rights and medical marijuana.

“There was no case,” Peron said after the hearing. “It was only designed to tarnish my name. Kiddie porn, that’s the worst thing you can accuse someone of.”

The computer was located in a guest room, and Peron adamantly denied he downloaded the images, saying that he doesn’t enjoy pornography and noting that, as a gay man, girls don’t interest him anyway. He also claimed the confiscated drugs were not his.

His lawyer said he was allowed to view the 33 images on Peron’s computer in the presence of police, and most were of girls. Some were pictures of “fully clothed” children, some were not illicit, and “some of it was potentially what they said it was,” he said.

However, Wilton added, “We’ve always said from the beginning that Dennis did not have sole access to that computer.”

As to Peron’s allegations that San Francisco police were targeting Peron because of his political stands, Derryck responded that “the child pornography case initially came to our attention because of an investigation by law enforcement from out of state.”

Nonetheless, Peron said he’s now thinking of suing the Police Department.

“They dragged me through the mud, and now I’m going to make them pay for it,” he said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com


FBI still probing police misconduct alleged in raids


The misconduct accusations brought by Public Defender Jeff Adachi and other defense attorneys against several San Francisco police officers earlier this year remain, for now, just that — accusations.

“The FBI is continuing our independent investigations into allegations regarding officers assigned to Southern and Mission Stations,” FBI spokeswoman Julianne Sohn said Wednesday. “SFPD has been cooperating with us since the onset of our investigations.”

Adachi unveiled the first of a series of surveillance videos of drug-raid arrests — most at residential hotels in the South of Market, Tenderloin and Mission neighborhoods — in early March.

Defense attorneys alleged that the videos showed plainclothes officers illegally entering hotel rooms without consent in some cases, or stealing residents’ valuables in others. There also were claims that officers falsified police reports, based on inconsistencies in what the videos depicted.

Prosecutors have since dismissed about 120 cases involving arrests by those officers due to credibility issues, should the officers be called to testify in those cases, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Allegations against a group of Richmond district officers accused of similar tactics in a March arrest were not deemed credible by prosecutors.

The officers from the Southern and Mission stations remain on administrative duty during the investigation, police spokesman Sgt. Mike Andraychak said.

 

Catch and release

Aug. 4, 2010: Peron arrested in “Castro Castle” raid

Nov. 3, 2010: Peron arraigned on child pornography, drug possession charges

Aug. 3, 2011: DA dismisses Peron case in its entirety

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Ari Burack

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