Prosecuting drug dealers is nothing new, but what about going after their lawyers?
Santa Rosa attorney Michael Kenneth Beyries, who represents marijuana dispensary owners, faces felony charges stemming from his handling of a recent pot case.
He is accused of misusing attorney-client privilege in jailhouse visits with client Theodore "Teo" Christos, 33, of Santa Rosa, arrested last month in a drug-trafficking and money-laundering investigation.
Beyries, whose connections to Christos are currently under investigation, had resigned his state bar membership in the weeks before the private, in-custody talks with Christos that triggered the criminal charges.
The district attorney has charged him with three counts of practicing without a license — allegations that carry stiff fines and a possible prison sentence.
The investigation led to the seizure of confidential legal files and computer hard-drives from Beyries' office. Prosecutors and his defense lawyer are fighting over whether those documents can be used against him in court.
One item taken from Beyries' office at an unspecified time appears to be a housewarming invitation from Christos that implies Beyries was helping him launder hundreds of thousands of dollars from pot sales at fictitious dispensaries.
Beyries has not been charged with any drug offenses.
Longtime Santa Rosa attorney Jack Montgomery, who is representing Beyries, said none of the allegations are true. Montgomery said Beyries, who has carved a niche in pot dispensary law, has come under suspicion because of his specialty.
"I'm concerned with this prosecution," Montgomery said. "It's a slippery slope when they start prosecuting attorneys. It becomes a frightening prospect."
The Sonoma County courthouse was buzzing with news of the case this week.
Lawyers said they have to be careful not to cross the line between providing legal advice and aiding and abetting in criminal acts.