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Plea Deal May Pit Pot Dealers Against Each Other as Marijuana Dispensary Case Moves to Trial

Hortipharm owner pleads no contest, may be called to testify as witness in case against Pacific Coast Collective owner

Following a plea deal, one Santa Barbara marijuana dispensary owner may testify in another dispensary owner’s upcoming trial, Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota said Friday.

Joshua Braun
Joshua Braun

Joshua Braun, 34, and his wife, Dayli, 27, own the now-closed Hortipharm dispensary, 3516 State St., and faced felony counts related to cultivating and selling marijuana, money laundering and stealing electricity services. The couple also owns the adjacent Pizza Guru at 3534 State St.

Five Hortipharm employees were also indicted by a county grand jury.

Earlier this week, Joshua Braun pleaded no contest to felony charges of selling marijuana and money laundering, which the prosecution felt was sufficient to resolve the case since he took responsibility, Deputy District Attorney Von Nguyen said. He will be sentenced later this year.

As part of the deal, charges against Dayli Braun were dismissed.

The Brauns had applied for a medical marijuana storefront dispensary permit through the city of Santa Barbara, but it was granted to another dispensary in the same “zone” of Upper State Street in December.

Cota is prosecuting another case, against Pacific Coast Collective owner Charles Restivo, whose permitted dispensary is still open at 331 N. Milpas St. In his preliminary hearing last September, Restivo testified that he had received marijuana from Hortipharm for his own dispensary.

Restivo’s dispensary and home were raided by authorities last year, which led to his arrest on charges of marijuana cultivation and possession for sales. Medical marijuana storefront dispensary guidelines require a nonprofit status and a closed-loop cultivation and distribution model.

Now that Braun has entered a plea, he will likely be called as a witness in Restivo’s case, Cota said.

Restivo had a hearing scheduled for Friday, but the case was continued to Sept. 9.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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