Santa Cruz Patients Collective suddenly shuts its doors

Jason HoppinSanta Cruz Sentinel:   05/31/2012

SANTA CRUZ – The number of Santa Cruz medical marijuana dispensaries was halved last weekend when the Santa Cruz Patients Collective suddenly closed its doors.

No reasons were given for the closure, and owner Ken Sampson could not be reached to comment. Speculation on why it closed ran the gamut from Sampson simply tiring of running the business to the landlord growing concerned about a recent federal crackdown on the state’s cannabis industry.

“His heart was in the right place,” said Ben Rice, a local attorney who works with medical marijuana clubs. “He was one of the first guys to really insist on the quality of the medicine. He was very determined to make sure the patients were not getting an adulterated product.”

If the crackdown, which has directly and indirectly claimed numerous dispensaries statewide, contributed to the collective’s closure, it could be the second one to shut it doors after California’s four U.S. attorneys joined forces to enforce federal prohibitions of the marijuana trade.

Earlier, Live Oak’s Crème de Canna closed, partly due to legal uncertainties that emerged after the federal enforcement effort began. One of those uncertainties has to do with building owners where dispensaries are housed, with the federal government warning some landlords that they could lose their buildings.

Marijuana advocates also say dozens of Californians involved in providing medical marijuana are now facing federal charges.

At the Patients Collective, formerly located at 115 Limekiln St., a lone remaining sign refers patients to Santa Cruz’ only other permitted pot club. Numerous other clubs operate outside city limits.

“If their patients want to come over here, they’re welcome,” said Calvin Maynor, who works at the Greenway Compassionate Relief in Santa Cruz, located blocks from the Patients Collective.

Open since 2006, the collective quickly won over skeptical neighbors in the Harvey West area.

“He turned all those people around,” Rice said.

Santa Cruz planner Mike Ferry said the city has never received complaints about Sampson’s operation. But how the city fills the now-vacant permit – potentially extremely valuable, even amid the federal crackdown – appears to be an open question.

Ferry, who has not been contacted by Sampson, said the business would have to stay dark for six months before a permit is reissued. But he did not know how the city would choose a second licensee if more than one potential operator stepped forward.

“That’s an interesting question,” Ferry said.

California voters not hot for legalizing pot

May 31, 2012

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES –  Legalizing marijuana is gaining traction in many places but apparently not in California, the state where the idea first took root.

Half of California voters surveyed say they oppose broad legalization, while 46 support it, according to a University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll (http://lat.ms/MZfhMp ) released Thursday. The survey found opinions have not measurably changed since 2010, when California voters defeated Proposition 19 that would have allowed recreational use of the drug.

A national Gallup poll recently showed support for legalizing pot had reached an all-time high of 50 percent. Behind such momentum, marijuana advocates have succeeded in getting initiatives qualified for the upcoming November ballot in Colorado and Washington.

The USC/LA Times poll found California voters overwhelmingly support doctor-recommended use of marijuana for the severely ill, with about 80 percent in favor of medical marijuana for the terminally ill and severely disabled.

The San Francisco Bay Area was the only region in the state where a majority — 55 percent — favors legalization. That compares with 41 percent in Southern California.

Those against marijuana use were more adamant in their position, with 42 percent feeling “strongly” about it compared with 33 percent for proponents.

Twenty-eight percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats polled liked the idea of marijuana legalization. Sixty-eight percent of Independents favor it.

Age also was a factor. Fifty-eight percent of those in their late teens and 20s support legal recreational use while just 28 percent of those older than 64 approve general use.

While California allows medical marijuana, it leaves the regulation of dispensaries where the drug is dispersed to local communities. In some places, the proliferation of dispensaries has angered citizens and prompted federal authorities to shut down some. The U.S. government does not allow legal use of medical marijuana.

The poll numbers suggest Californians are concerned about implementation of the Compassionate Use Act, the medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996, according to Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

“They like the idea of providing marijuana for medical use, but they’re worried that the law is being abused,” he said.

Dale Gieringer, coordinator of the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said California needs to better regulate medical pot distribution before the public will embrace general use.

“Voters are hesitant to liberalize the marijuana laws any further until the chaos of the current system is worked out,” he said.

The statewide telephone poll of 1,002 registered voters was conducted May 17-21. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

Linda Ellen Lemaster and Steve Pleich: Homeless must not be scapegoated

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

May 27, 2012

Original Post

 Steve Pleich attending a Take Back Santa Cruz
“positive loitering” event, Jan 21, 2011 -photo
by Becky Johnson
SENTINEL OP-ED
May 27, 2012

 

No words can describe the depth of sadness we feel as a community over the recent and shocking murder of Shannon Collins, which took place midday in a Santa Cruz neighborhood. How can we best — while sharing our grief and despite our differences — respond to such a senseless tragedy in ways that reflect the true measure of our community? In solidarity with our neighbors, we are speaking from our heartfelt concern about a generally anti-homeless policy package that now would attach itself to our grief, to our collective fears and to our rightful rage.

At this time when our community is most in need of strong, creative, compassionate leadership, an ad hoc committee of three Santa Cruz City Council members presents a slate of new policies and regulations that echo the fear and anger many in our community share. Taken together, their package affords none of the depth of reason and cooperation we sorely need in this dark hour. These proposals would prove, by turns, to be harmful, impractical and arguably unlawful.

Let’s not make already dicey tensions morph into a greater conflict. Rather, let’s work more closely with our neighbors, all: housed, homeless, transitioning, students, even our guests. Restoring and creating a better community can include every one of us, and we can develop policies that could actually generate greater safety and human dignity — we all, including homeless human beings, deserve this.

We can lead with compassion and hang onto the notion that every human being deserves dignity. We are offering community engagement rather than a widened divide. Civic safety must include everyone. Make no mistake about who we are calling homeless. We have learned through careful studies, professional surveys every other year, and one-to-one interviews, that 67 percent of the people who are homeless on our streets either grew up here, or were formerly established residents in Santa Cruz. Nationally, adult homeless men, both by personal choice and by exclusive policies, are dying 25-35 years prematurely. Working together, we can help change this grim picture, at least locally.

If the city of Santa Cruz needs to suppress needed emergency sheltering for which it shares responsibility, or to divert city funding to manipulate trafficking of homeless people through our city as if they were of a subclass, or even a subspecies, it behooves everyone, including the city attorney, to create a less reactive and way more inclusive approach beforehand.

We feel the agenda of this ad hoc group promises limited safety while ensuring greater fear, an expanded underground economy that will touch us all, and increased criminalization of uprooted folks that will waste even more court, jail and other staffing resources. Collaborating with the county’s mental health resources is already legally required of the city and focused civic leadership is long overdue, as is restoring funds for an existing homeless resource officer within the Santa Cruz Police Department.

“We all know that there are problems with the system, that there is a large transient population in our city, and that Santa Cruz has its issues,” shared Ken Vinson in a courageous public statement right after his wife and best friend was suddenly, tragically, killed. “But I want to be very clear about one thing: none of these things caused this horrific crime. A single individual did. …
“This crime could have occurred in any city in any state across our union. It is an utter, unfathomable tragedy that it occurred here, and to such a beautiful, young woman. But I implore you: Do not blame the system. Do not blame an entire population. And most of all, do not blame Santa Cruz.”
We agree. If we permit our civic leaders to promote greater bigotry and to further scapegoat homeless people, we will again see increased “troll busting.” There are better solutions, many already in the works, more needing community collaborators; community-based solutions which protect everyone’s human dignity and don’t further trample human and civil rights.

Steve Pleich is director of Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project and Linda Ellen Lemaster facilitates Housing NOW! in Santa Cruz. Both are active in community groups engaged with ending or easing homelessness, including the Interfaith network and Homeless Action Partnership.

Lending a Hand: Housing Authority gets funds to help first-time buyers

Peter Boutell

SC Sentinel:   05/26/2012

Every year the Housing Authority of Santa Cruz County has received funds to help out first time homebuyers with the Mortgage Credit Certificate MCC program. I believe that this is the best program for homebuyers because it puts money back into the hands of homeowners.

This program is offered throughout Santa Cruz County as well as other counties in the state. For as long as I can remember, the Housing Authority here has been offering funds each year to promote homeownership and does a wonderful job at managing the demand for this program. This week the Housing Authority announced a new allocation of funds for 2012.

This is the only first time homebuyer program that actually puts money back in the homebuyers’ pockets each month and here is how it works: The home owner gets a tax credit not just a deduction! of up to 20 per cent of the interest portion of his mortgage payment each month. For example, on a $400,000 loan used to buy a home, the monthly principal and interest payment will be $1,910 for a 30 year fixed rate loan at an interest rate of 4.00 percent. The MCC program will allow the owner to deduct up to $3,100 from his federal income tax bill in the first 12 months of home ownership. That is a savings of more than $280 per month!

The savings will continue throughout the life of the loan as long as the home remains owner occupied and the MCC paperwork is filed each year with the homeowner’s federal tax returns. The cash benefit of this program will decrease each year as the loan balance decreases.

It should be noted that since interest paid on a mortgage for the purchase of a principal residence is a tax deductible expense, the remaining 80 per cent of the mortgage interest paid becomes tax deductible and will represent an additional monthly savings.

There also is the added advantage that since the effective house payment will be reduced by the amount of the MCC tax credit, lenders are able to qualify home buyers for a larger mortgage loan, which translates to a higher sales price.

To receive the credit on a monthly basis, borrowers can adjust their W-4 with their employer i.e. claim more dependents so that they will have less deducted out of their paycheck each month for their federal income tax withholding. Alternatively, if the borrowers choose to receive the credit annually, the credit will come back as a refund at tax time of the following year. Be sure to consult with your tax preparer.

Who qualifies? First of all, you have to be a first time home buyer, which is defined as someone who has not owned the home that they have lived in during the past three years it is OK to own or have owned a rental or investment property. For the property to qualify this year, the house or condo must be purchased for $591,098 or less Last year that was set at $573,881. The annual income of the persons that is buying the home must be less than $87,000 for a family of one or two or less than $100,050 for a family of three or more.

In order to be one of the lucky families who receives a Mortgage Credit Certificate this year in Santa Cruz County, you will need to be prepared.

That means that you must take action now to be preapproved for a loan. The first step toward preapproval is to meet with a participating lender and submit 3 years of federal tax returns, W-2s, 30 days of current paystubs, and two months of bank statements for each one of your savings, checking, stock and retirement accounts.

You also need to start actively looking at homes. To actually apply for one of these precious MCC certificates there is enough money for perhaps just eight this year, you must be in contract to purchase the home. There is a $250 application fee that goes to the Housing Authority; it should be noted that some lenders will fill out the paperwork for you.

In order to take advantage of these tax credits, you or your accountant must fill out IRS form No. 8396 along with your federal tax returns each year. Although there is a recapture provision that could trigger a partial repayment of these benefits if the home is sold within nine years, it is not likely to kick in. Ask your mortgage consultant to explain the details.

Not all lenders participate in this program, so be sure to ask!

Marijuana and Autism Survey – NORML and UF4A Collaboration

by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

The Connection Magazine “News From The Net” – May 26, 2012

Over the last five years there
have been numerous media reports
about the anecdotal use of cannabis
to help autistic children. Two brave
women, one on the east coast the other
the west, have been at the forefront of
this effort to help scientifically explain
why cannabis appears to be so helpful.
Marie Myung-Ok Lee wrote about her
experience in Rhode Island, a state with
medical cannabis laws, in 2009. Soon
after, inspired by Marie’s writings,
Mieko Perez Hester and her son had
a similarly positive experience with
treating his autism in California. Mieko,
soon after going public about their ex-
perience, was invited onto ABC’s Good
Morning America.
The reply from parents around the
country to these charter members of the
NORML Women Alliance experience
as parents using cannabis as a therapy
for their autistic children has been
overwhelming and inspired the need
to perform proper scientific research
to possibly develop cannabinoid-based
treatments for autism in both children
and adults.
To help accomplish this Mieko es-
tablished The Unconventional Founda-
tion for Autism (UF4A), which is asking
the NORML community of hundreds
of thousands of cannabis consumers
and patients to help with a scientific
survey today.
The NORML community has
joined UF4A in this remarkable journey
and fight, and has offered to help solicit
feedback through the survey.
Target: Persons on the autism
spectrum currently using or interested
in using cannabis as a safe and effective
medication to treat autism.
With more than 1 in 88 children
affected, autism is the fastest growing
developmental disability in the United
States. Currently, there is no medical
detection or cure for autism; however,
there are pharmaceutical and therapeutic
treatments that have proven to be effec-
tive in treating the condition. Among
the safest and most remarkable is the
therapeutic use of medical cannabis.
Amidst a highly controversial
setting, one California mother is shar-
ing her autistic son’s triumphant and
life-saving journey with the world.
Single mother of three, Mieko Hester
Perez was watching her young son,
Joey, succumb to various combinations
of 13 different prescription drugs that
ravaged his body and internal organs.
Joey weighed only 46 pounds, and was
in a battle for his life. (Read more:
www.uf4a.org.)
In 2009, The Unconventional
Foundation for Autism (UF4A) was
formed. UF4A is lighting a path in hopes
that others may benefit from alternative
therapies that may be available to other
families on the Autism Spectrum. Mieko
helped create a survey to help solidify
and amplify her results and the level of
help the Foundation can provide.
At UF4A, we believe providing
the most accurate information to medi-
cal professionals for research purposes
will pave the way for clinical trials for
unconventional treatments.
We seek to solidify and further the
fundamental understanding we have in
regards to the effectiveness of cannabis
alleviating symptoms along the Autism
Spectrum. The information collected
in the survey will be used to further
guide families, new patients, doctors
and lawmakers in making informed and
proper decisions for themselves and our
community.
SURVEY LINK: If this survey
applicable to you or a loved one, we
invite you or them to fill out the form
UF4A Treatment of Persons on the
Spectrum with Cannabis. To fill out
the survey, go to https://spreadsheets.
google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?for
mkey=dG9wYmVjaVhQdXpXWVV
YbUtjaDR0UGc6MQ.

It’s Time for Obama to Have His “Marijuana Moment”

by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Coordinator

The Connection Magazine “News From The Net” – May 26, 2012

The internet was ablaze yesterday
with talk of President Obama’s
youthful pot use. Which is odd,
considering the only thing atypical
about Obama’s high school years is how
common and relatable they seem.
Recent polling has shown support
for marijuana legalization growing
exponentially. Just this month, 56%
of people responded in favor of legal-
ization in a survey from Rasmussen
Reports, with only 36% opposed. This
is just the latest in a continuing trend
of polling data demonstrating major-
ity support for regulating cannabis. In
October 2011, a Gallup poll had 50%
support amongst those polled. Ending
the war on cannabis consumers is no
longer a political liability, it is a political
possibility. President Obama should use
this opening to embrace reforming our
country’s marijuana laws and encour-
age Congress to pass laws to facilitate
ending the arrest of 850,000 American
citizens a year.
It is time for Barack to get in
touch with his inner “Barry” and ad-
vocate for ending this country’s war
against responsible adults who choose
to consume cannabis. The majority of
this country is waiting for your opinion
to “evolve” on this issue, this could be
your chance.
We encourage you to make your
voice heard as an American voter and let
the White House know this is an issue
you consider to be of importance in this
election. It is time those in Washington
realize supporting rational reforms to
our country’s marijuana laws can win
them support at the ballot box.
RT!: @BarackObama: It’s time to
have your “marijuana moment” #Legal-
izeIt2012 #DescheduleMJ – http://bit.
ly/Kb3EAk

http://www.whitehouse.gov/con-

tact, or http://twitter.com/#!/BarackO-
bama

Unruly Oakland meeting over Occupy, ‘violence’

Matthai Kuruvila
SF Chronicle, May 26, 2012

Councilwoman Pat Kernighan said she will push forward an ordinance banning possession of shields, sticks and other “tools of violence” at demonstrations even though a vitriolic discussion of the issue shut down a public meeting this week.

The unruly Public Safety Committee meeting was cut short on Tuesday when Kernighan, who chairs the committee, decided that members of Occupy Oakland threatened the safety of the sole public speaker who supported the ordinance. Kernighan and the speaker left with a police escort.

The man, who identified himself as a 26-year resident of downtown Oakland, had said that protesters’ behavior “borders on terrorism.” Occupiers then charged him and grabbed his microphone. One man came up to his face and said, “You’re not going to make it home.”

“That’s when I closed the meeting,” Kernighan said.

The ordinance, co-sponsored by Kernighan and City Attorney Barbara Parker, would ban shields, fire accelerants, clubs and hammers, which have been used repeatedly in protests to commit vandalism or attack police. Possession of those items could result in six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The councilwoman said she will modify the proposal to address concerns raised by some speakers at the meeting, including clarifying what is banned. Prohibiting shields is the most controversial element. Police say protesters have used shields to charge officers and protect those who hurl objects at police. Occupiers say the shields are essential to protect themselves from police, who have been captured on video shooting bean bags at visibly peaceful protesters.

Kernighan said she is exploring whether smaller shields might be acceptable, such as 2 by 2 feet.

She said the revised ordinance will make it clear that camera tripods and monopods are not clubs, and that water bottles are legal for protesters to carry. “Water bottles and cameras are not a problem,” she said. “It’s the items that have been consistently used for vandalism – the paint projectiles, the fire accelerants, the large wrenches and hammers. There is zero reason for any of those things to be brought to a protest march.”

Police searches

Kernighan said she will also clarify that police cannot freely search demonstrators for banned items and that they will have to follow laws requiring probable cause to search people and their bags.

Those changes do little to resolve the problems with the proposed ordinance, said Jesse Trepper, a member of Occupy Oakland’s antirepression committee.

“I don’t want to give them more ways to criminalize protest,” Trepper said. “The things she’s complaining about, like property damage, are already crimes.”

Typically, council items have to be approved in committees before coming to the full council. Because Tuesday’s meeting was canceled before a vote, Kernighan said she will use a procedural move to bring the ordinance to the full council, probably in six weeks.

Uproar grows

The disrupted meeting has caused a growing furor at City Hall, with city staff and elected officials angry at Occupiers but also at Kernighan, who they blame for not keeping a better handle on the meeting.

Occupiers repeatedly hurled a misogynistic slur at Kernighan, while she told them to “shut the hell up.”

“I should have shut the meeting down earlier,” Kernighan conceded.

Yet Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who was not at the meeting, said the shutdown made the city look like “a circus” or “The Jerry Springer Show,” a television program notorious for having audience scrums.

“We cannot allow a group of people – clowns – to shut down a meeting,” he said on Thursday. “It’s the responsibility of our administration and the police to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Council President Larry Reid said it was the worst public meeting he’d seen in 30 years and walked out before it ended. Reid told De La Fuente: “I promise you: It will not happen again.”

Court, medical records detailed history of violence, mental illness of suspected murderer Charles Edwards

Jessica M. Pasko and J.M. Brown
SC Sentinel:   05/25/2012

SANTA CRUZ — The man accused of fatally stabbing Santa Cruz business owner Shannon Collins has a history of violence against his family that frightened his mother so much she told friends not to tell him where she lived.

Court and medical files from San Francisco Superior Court paint a disturbing picture of Charles Anthony Edwards III, the man accused of stabbing to death Collins as she walked to a hair appointment from home on May 7 on Broadway. Edwards, 43, was arrested on suspicion of murder moments after Collins was stabbed. The two did not know each other, police said. He is being held in County Jail in a unit reserved for those with mental health problems, according to his attorney, Anthony Robinson. Edwards pleaded not guilty to all charges Tuesday. He’s due back in court on June 4 to set a date for his preliminary hearing.

Edwards, who was released from state parole in December, is believed to have been in the Santa Cruz area for about a week before Collins was killed. He’d spent four nights at the city’s Homeless Services Center, according to the center’s executive director, Monica Martinez. She said he was cooperative and docile during his stay there.

Edwards has a history of mental illness that includes multiple terms of commitment in prison mental institutions that began in 1991, according to court records. Prison medical staff found him to be schizophrenic and bipolar, according to records. He also has a long history of substance abuse, including use of cocaine, crack, marijuana and alcohol.

YOUTHFUL OFFENDER

His lengthy criminal rap sheet began when he was just 13, when he was arrested for a robbery. A year later he was arrested for grand theft and committed to California Youth Authority, to which he would return in 1986 after being arrested for burglary and receiving stolen property. He was paroled from California Youth Authority in 1989.

A decade after that first offense, Edwards was charged with his first assault. He received probation after pleading guilty, but violated the terms of his probation and was sentenced to two years in state prison.

Between 1993 and 1996, he was in and out of prison for crimes that included battering an 89-year-old man in 1995 and violating parole. According to court records, Atascadero officials said his parole violations mostly involved violent behavior or substance abuse.

Notably, much of Edwards’ violent behavior has targeted his mother, Ethel Flores. His parents split when he was 10 years old, and his father, a retired bus driver, was described as an alcoholic. His mother owned a business and raised Edwards along with his two half-siblings.

In 1996, Edwards pleaded guilty to assaulting his mother in San Francisco and was released on parole 16 months later. He threatened Flores and his two young nieces in two telephone messages in January 1998, threatening to kill all three if he found out where Flores was living. Records show Flores had told authorities she believed her son would act on his threats and she told friends not to tell him where she lived.

“Ms. Flores was so scared that she was afraid to go anywhere,” according to reports from the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. “Ms. Flores had been beaten and threatened by the defendant in the past and took his threats seriously.”

Flores kept a tape recording of the message and played it for a San Francisco police officer. In a rambling string of expletives and often nonsensical commentary, he threatens to kill her.

Flores also told police her son previously had assaulted her five times and she’d filed police reports.

“He had drawn hammers back at me,” she told police when she reporting the threats. “He has kicked me all in my head. That last time the ambulance had to come.”

She added, “I want him charged, I want him locked up.”

“I have did (sic) nothing but try to help that guy. I’ve given him the best advice. I’ve even made him go to school one time but he just couldn’t finish. And I am tired,” she said at the time. “I’ll be 55 years old in August. And the kids’ lives are in danger. I’m going back to work at the end of the month. I can’t watch them every minute.”

DOWNWARD SPIRAL

Edwards’ mental health deteriorated and the case was put off while he was treated at state medical facilities for several years, according to records. Medical staff found he had chronic and paranoid schizophrenia and at one point admitted him to San Quentin’s infirmary for increased delusions and paranoia.

In 2002, an Atascadero official sent a letter to the district attorney in San Francisco that said the “defendant is a person who, because of a severe mental disorder which is not in remission or cannot be kept in remission unless the person’s treatment is continued” poses a threat to the public. “Without said treatment, such a person represents a substantial danger of physical harm to others.”

The official reported that Edwards had been physically violent and did not follow his treatment plan, and seemed to believe the Caucasian staff was out to get him. In one incident, Edwards picked up a chair and “repeatedly hit a window until it shattered,” the official wrote. Edwards was placed in full bed restraints and calmed with drugs.

He was released in 2003 and a jury found that he was “not a mentally disordered offender.”

The records in San Francisco drop off after 2003, but Edwards later spent time in jail in Los Angeles and San Diego counties for crimes including resisting an officer using force. The Sentinel has filed public information requests for those records.

Man stabbed at campsite near Highway 17, Highway 1; Santa Cruz Police arrest acquaintance with blood on his hands, clothes

Cathy Kelly
Santa Cruz Sentinel:   05/25/2012
SANTA CRUZ – A 43-year-old man was stabbed Thursday night at a campsite between Highway 17 and southbound Highway 1, according to Santa Cruz Police.The man received “a few” stab wounds, but they were not considered life-threatening, police spokesman Zach Friend said.He was taken to Dominican Hospital, Friend said.

The victim flagged down a passerby on Ocean Street about 10:45 p.m., saying he had been stabbed, Friend said.

The victim told police that a man he knew stabbed him after the two argued at a campsite where they were staying, according to Friend.

Police arrested Steven Dale Goodwin at the campsite, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Goodwin, 58, denied the attack, but had blood on his clothes and hands, Friend said.

Santa Cruz police ask anyone with information to call the anonymous tip line at 420-5995 or leave a tip at www.santacruzpolice.com.

Charges reinstated for two defendants in takeover of former bank building

By Jessica M. Pasko – Santa Cruz Sentinel
05/25/2012

 

Santa Cruz police officers inspect the back doorway of the vacant… (Kevin Johnson/Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ – Charges have been refiled against two of the defendants accused in the takeover of a vacant bank building last year.

After a preliminary hearing in April, Judge Paul Burdick dismissed the charges against Franklin Cruz Alcantara, Cameron Laurendeau, Grant Wilson and Edward Rector, citing a lack of evidence. At the time, prosecutor Rebekah Young announced her intentions to re-file against Alcantara and Laurendeau. She said she had more evidence that hadn’t come out in their first preliminary hearing.

The new charges are the same as the previous ones, two misdemeanor counts of trespassing, felony vandalism and felony conspiracy to commit vandalism and trespass, Young said.

The two were scheduled to appear in court Friday morning for arraignment on the new charges, though their supporters maintain the two defendants hadn’t been informed of the appearance. Young told the court she had mailed a notice to appear to both of them.

Cruz rushed into court late and entered a plea of not guilty, but a bench warrant will now be sought for Laurendeau, who lives in Oakland and did not show up Friday.

A preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday for five of the other defendants in the case was vacated because defense attorneys say the prosecution hasn’t turned over all the evidence to them. Defendants Becky Johnson, Robert Norse, Brent Adams, Gabriella Ripleyphipps and Desiree Foster are due back June 1 to set a new date for the hearing.

Judge Burdick also dismissed charges against Bradley Allen and Alex Darocy earlier this month. Their attorneys said the two were photojournalists who had been photographing the action as a news event.

A total of 11 people were arrested in connection with the takeover of the former Wells Fargo building at 75 River St. in late November and early December. Acting “anonymously and autonomously in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz,” an undetermined number of demonstrators entered the building with the announced intention of turning it into a community center. Demonstrators continued to occupy the building for almost three days amid numerous negotiations with police before eventually leaving peacefully.

A number of protests and demonstrations have been held in support of those charged, asking the District Attorney’s Office to drop all charges, and a website called www.santacruzeleven.org has been set up.