Sebastopol real estate agent gets a year in jail in pot, weapons case

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A Sebastopol real estate agent who prosecutors said ran a lucrative marijuana business that he protected with an arsenal of guns and body armor was sentenced Tuesday to a split sentence of a year in jail and four years on supervised release.

Yarrow Lee Kubrin, 42, received the punishment in a Santa Rosa courtroom packed with supporters. Many said he was being unfairly prosecuted in a state that allows marijuana for medical purposes and seems poised to legalize it for recreational use.

Kubrin’s lawyer, Chris Andrian, said his client ran a transparent business that was fully incorporated, used bank accounts and, for the most part, was in compliance with current law.

He never fired the guns, which were locked in gun safes and partly belonged to his father, Andrian said.

“We as a culture have to find a way to deal with this differently,” Andrian said. “It’s part of our culture. It’s not going away.”

But prosecutors said Kubrin was a danger to his young family and the community, which has been racked in recent years with marijuana-related violence including murder.

Despite voters’ acceptance of pot, the cash-rich industry that supplies it continues to fuel home-invasion robberies and botched drug deals that end up costing people their lives, District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

She said she supports the use of marijuana for legitimate medical purposes but will prosecute anyone who poses a threat to public safety.

“This has nothing to do with whether it should be legalized,” Ravitch said. “It has to do with efforts to keep our community safe now.”

Evidence showed Kubrin grew or sold marijuana from five different locations, mostly in the west county, and made cash deposits of more than $600,000 in less than two years, prosecutor Anne Masterson said.

When he was arrested in 2010, a search of his Cherry Ridge Road home turned up a trove of assault-style rifles and shotguns, pistols and sets of body armor Masterson said were for no other purpose than to “protect people in a gunfight.”

Masterson said bags of marijuana shared cabinet space with Kubrin’s children’s toys. In a basement, detectives found a money-counting machine and a “shrine” to law enforcement with replica badges and a framed photograph of “The Sopranos” TV show characters, she said.

Kubrin, who was convicted of pot dealing in 1992 and 1997, got a “thrill” out of a lifestyle that allowed him to buy an $80,000 Lexus, Masterson said.

While out on bail, he was arrested again for his role in another marijuana transaction, prosecutors said.

“This is a man who got caught up in his own ego,” Masterson said.

Kubrin originally was charged along with a dozen other defendants, including his wife, Heather Kubrin, 44, with more than 40 counts, including money laundering, illegal cultivation and conspiracy. Yarrow Kubrin faced additional weapons charges because he is a felon.

Kubrin was looking at a long prison term if convicted at trial. But he pleaded no contest to a half-dozen counts under an agreement to serve no longer than five years and four months in jail.

Andrian asked that he be placed on probation, saying Kubrin was unaware what he was doing was illegal. At the time, Andrian said, the law was vague about whether a marijuana collective could sell to dispensaries. He said his client opened accounts at Exchange Bank identifying himself as being in the marijuana business.

“Mr. Kubrin was not sneaking around,” Andrian said. “He was putting it out there for the world to see.”

Kubrin’s supporters launched a social media campaign, filling courtrooms at his hearings. A petition seeking leniency had more than 1,000 signatures.

“It’s a big deal,” said Santa Rosa massage therapist Jeff Roth, who attended Tuesday’s sentencing. “People are paying attention.”

Judge Rene Chouteau acknowledged Kubrin’s backing but denied probation, finding he created a danger by possessing an AR-15 and assault-style shotguns Chouteau said were meant for killing people. He remanded Kubrin into custody to begin serving his sentence. Charges against his wife were dismissed.

Under state sentencing laws, Kubrin could be out in six months.

“These weapons you had … are only meant for killing your fellow human beings,” Chouteau said. “And that is something that I do take seriously. You have those kinds of guns in a high-risk business, you put your family, infant, your neighbors and members of this community at risk.”

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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