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Former pot defendants file claim over NTF raids 

A Paso Robles couple arrested in January’s massive San Luis Obispo Narcotics Task Force investigation of medical marijuana collectives has filed claims against the state for damages.

Rachel Tamagni, a glass artist and holistic medicine specialist, and husband Chip, a landscaper, were arrested Dec. 28, 2010, along with 10 other SLO County residents on charges that they sold marijuana illegally. The Tamagnis were founders of Trilogy Health Services, a Paso Robles-based medical marijuana collective, and they say they were following state law.

Even though the county District Attorney’s Office rejected the NTF’s case—essentially dropping the charges—the Tamagnis have yet to get back any of their property seized in the early morning raid of their home, including a personal computer and scores of other personal property.

The claims were filed the week of May 9 by the Tamagnis’ SLO-based attorneys, Patrick and David Fisher. They seek nearly $1 million each in general damages for loss of property, and general pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages due to the “intentional wantonness and willfulness” of the officers who conducted the raid on their home.

The claim names NTF Cmdr. Rodney John, NTF lead investigator Jason Dickel, and two other local officers as those who caused the damages.

Rachel Tamagni told New Times she and her husband filed the claim because the property hadn’t been returned despite three separate motions made in SLO County Superior Court.

“We feel like if you can’t fight for what’s right, what can you fight for?” she said. “If at any time [the NTF] had started to be reasonable here, we wouldn’t be filing this.”

She added that the couple didn’t have access to their business records during tax season, and substantial legal fees have hurt them financially.

The state has 45 days from the date of receipt to respond to the claim, which is the first step in submitting a civil lawsuit. The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, which oversees the local NTF, couldn’t be reached for comment as of press time.

The claim was filed less than two weeks before the first trial stemming from the NTF investigation is set to begin. Peter Miller, who operated the Paso Robles-based collective Harmonic Alliance, is set for a pre-trial conference on May 23.

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