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Sebastopol man convicted on pot charge based on cash in trunk

It turns out you can’t drive around with a large amount of weed-infused cash in your car.

Jurors on Friday convicted a Sebastopol man of possessing proceeds from the sale of marijuana in a case in which police pulled him over with $47,000 in his trunk but none of the odoriferous green bud.

The panel apparently was swayed by police testimony that the smell was so strong inside William David Bush’s black Mercedes-Benz that the only logical conclusion to draw was that the money came from a recent drug transaction.

Other evidence collected from the car included a hand-written ledger describing what prosecutors believed was various marijuana strains as well as fine particles of pot on the floorboards.

“The odor was so overwhelming that one of the officers said he could smell it from across the road,” prosecutor Sharmalee Rajakumaran said after the verdict was announced.

Bush offered various explanations for the money including that it came from his ATM business and that his mother had given it to him. He was taken into custody in court and faces a maximum four years in jail at his Oct. 24 sentencing.

He represented himself in the two-day trial, rejecting initial prosecution offers to drop the felony charge if he forfeited the money.

Bush was driving on Bennett Valley Road Oct. 6, 2012 when he was pulled over by a CHP for an alleged traffic violation.

The smell led to a search of his trunk. Officers found 10 stacks of cash sealed in plastic, tucked inside clothing in a suitcase.

The money had picked up the smell of marijuana — a common occurrence in major pot deals, officers said.

Receipts for items associated with an outdoor growing operation were found in the car along with stubs from money orders favored by drug dealers to launder cash, police testified.

A search of Bush’s bank records showed $113,000 in cash deposits over a two-year period. There were no payroll checks, officers said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.)

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