On Tuesday, James Stewart, the jailed founder and principal of Rawesome Food Co., was offered a deal by the Ventura County prosecutor: Plead guilty to 14 of 37 counts of fraud and securities violations, and you’ll receive a six-month jail sentence. The two months you’ve spent in jail will be credited to the jail sentence, so in the end, you’ll “only” have to spend four more months in jail. Then, you’ll be a free man.
Could be tempting on one level, given that a judge could mete out up to thirty years in jail time if Stewart is convicted by a jury of all the charges filed against him. And that Stewart may well have served close to six months by the time a jury actually hears the case and renders a verdict.
The discussion never got to the next step, as to which charges Stewart would plead guilty to, since he immediately rejected the proposal. He’s moving forward toward a trial, which could begin by the end of October.
The charges against Stewart grow out of the acquisition of the Healthy Family Farms site acquired by Sharon Palmer back in 2008, using funds borrowed from at least seven families, at least some of them members of Rawesome, along with mortgage funds secured from a bank by long-time Rawesome member Larry Otting. No deal terms were spelled out at the Tuesday pretrial conference for Palmer, who is charged with 39 counts of fraud and securities violations in the same case.
The prosecutor could come back with improved terms for Stewart before a trial begins, just as prosecutors in the Los Angeles County part of the Rawesome case–charges having to do with raw milk distribution– improved terms to Sharon Palmer on the day her pretrial hearing was to begin earlier this month. She accepted those terms.
It’s safe to say that defendants in politically motivated raw milk and food rights cases upcoming will be facing similar kinds of decisions. Alvin Schlangen was offered a deal just prior to his trial last week whereby he would plead guilty to a single misdemeanor and pay $200 in court costs to avoid a trial. He chose to go on trial, and we all know what happened there.
If and when farmer Dan Brown of Maine “food sovereignty” fame goes on trial, a deal will no doubt be offered to him beforehand. And prior to Vernon Hershberger’s scheduled trial in early January, a deal will likely be offered.
The decision as to whether or not to take a deal is a highly personal one. As some pointed out when I suggested Palmer and Bloch got a good deal when they pleaded guilty to single charges and incurred small fines, it’s not me who has to bear the consequences of the outcome. It’s not me who has to have a criminal record and deal with probation officers in the event of a settlement, and it’s not me risking a possible lengthy jail sentence if a jury decides on guilt.
The plea deal has become a standard part of our criminal justice system–an unfortunate part for the increasing number of individuals being dragged into the system on seemingly minor charges or, as in the cases I’ve described here, in politically-motivated cases. As a result of plea deals, it’s been estimated that 95% of all cases never come to trial. The typical approach by prosecutors is to pile on seemingly endless charges, hoping to intimidate defendants from seeking their right to a jury trial. The huge number of charges improves the chance that, if the case does go to trial, jurors will bring back a guilty plea on at least a few charges, and a judge irritated by having to do his or her job will impose a stiff sentence on whatever conviction results.
It seems to me that when you are dealing with politically-motivated cases, and a system that has shown itself to be highly biased against you via the politicians, regulators, and judges, then facing trial offers the only hope of exoneration, and sending a message to arrogant prosecutors that they should spend their time prosecuting real crime. But as I said, it’s not my rear end that could wind up in jail if a jury votes to convict.
Certainly the tenor of the offers being made to defendants like Stewart will provide insight into the confidence levels of prosecutors. The Los Angeles County prosecutors obviously were loathe to go in front of a jury with their evidence, given the kind of deals they offered Palmer and Bloch.
In the case of James Stewart, the Ventura County case is so flimsy, so bereft of solid evidence that he was an active participant in the land deal, that it would seem as if a jury would struggle to convict him. A victory would send a strong message, on a par with Schlangen’s, that prosecutors shouldn’t be messing with our food.
As if to underline the political nature of the Ventura County case against James Stewart and Sharon Palmer, a number of their supporters have begun a petition campaign on their behalf. The petition, headlined, “Free the Farmer & Release the Milkman”, accuses the Ventura County District Attorney’s office of “misconduct” and “unethical behavior” in bringing the case forward.
The petition and its statement of background information is worth reading through to appreciate the absence of victims in this case. It’s only been up a couple days, and already has more than 1,000 signers.
Two forums on raw milk are upcoming.
On Oct. 12, an evening program examining the political assault on raw milk will be held in Milwaukee. The program, “Raw Milk, is it Dangerous?” will begin at 7 p.m. at the Irish Culture & Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, and it is free. Speakers will include Elizabeth Rich of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Max Kane, an activist, Gayle Loiselle of Nurished by Nature, and Vernon Hershberger, a farmer facing criminal charges in connection with his food club. Hundreds are expected; doors open at 6:30.
On Oct. 19-20, the fourth International Raw Milk Symposium will be held in Vancouver. Sponsored in part by the Weston A. Price Foundation, the event will be held at the Hotel Delta at Vancouver Airport. Registration is $225 (Canadian).
“just send my mail … to the Ventura County gaol!”
someone please post a postal address at which James Stewart can receive surface mail
Here is James offer:
Pay me $5,000 a day for being kept in jail and eating toxic foods.
Apologize to me and every member of RAWESOME on the front steps of the court house with all media rolling live.
resign from your jobs and never hold a public prosecutors job again.
Never ever step foot onto anyplace that I sell real food to people that I love.
Do this I will not sue you to oblivion where you will have to write a check for multiple fold what I have offered. Kind of like Bravehearts offer to the King.
Sounds like James is taking the long road….what else is there to loose. He has already had to deal with the worst. Now the jury will pity him for his time in jail when his crimes deserve a parking ticket or less.
James will win…watch this unravel. He must not take anything other than a full apology and a pound of flesh plus treasure for this atrocity. He is nothing less than a political food prisoner.
I have to think that James has taken heart from the verdict in Alvin Schlangen’s case. I also have to think that the petition on behalf of James (and Sharon Palmer) may be making the Ventura County prosecutors a tad uncomfortable. It has more than 1,500 signatures already. If you haven’t signed, give it a look.
Jewish Mom’s certainly aren’t taking it sitting down! http://foodfreedomgroup.com/2012/09/28/monsanto-trolls-and-jewish-mothers-by-david-stein/
The article by Sandor Katz sates, My current favorite example of an outlawed food is the Italian cheese called casu marzu, a traditional product of the island of Sardinia Of course, the tradition of casu marzu continues. People do not simply say, OK, we will end our inherited tradition because you say so. People resist any new order imposed upon their culture. And so casu marzu continues to be made and eaten, though now not sold, at least not openly. The tradition now holds a different place in the culture, as a symbol of resistance against an ever-more-distant, out-of-touch centralized authority.
Lets listen in to tonights campfire story at Camp Food Freedom:
Narrator: then after all the careful surveillance OH LOOK! Is that a camera under that rock????? Anyway after all the surveillance, the Leader of the Government Guys with Guns had to have authorization from a Judge of the Court to actually get their hands on samples, not just take pictures with hidden cameras and record all the plotting with hidden microphones. And arrest warrants were drawn up!! For James the Manager, and Victoria, and Sharon. It was going to look real goooood. So they found a Judge, The Honorable Judge Wink Nudge-Nudge and sent the Judge a request like this:
Dear Judge, we request authorization to drop-in unannounced and take samples. (signed) Leader of Government Guys with Guns.
Dear Leader of Government Guys with Guns, Here is your authorization to drop-in unannounced and take samples. (signed) Judge.
Narrator: then! Boys and girls, on Wednesday, August the third two-thousand eleven, the government guys with guns SWOOPED in and destroyed the place, maybe $80,000 or so of private property, throwing Sharon, Victoria, and James in the hoosegow for a list of reasons as long as my long arm. Would they be locked-up a long, long time? Would they wear a probationary chain for the rest of their lives?
Now go turn in and sleep well, Ill finish the story tomorrow night.
Boys and girls: Oooooohhhh!!!
Thanks for that link. Sandor Katz gets it, and says so clearly by describing harm caused by an ever-more-distant, out-of-touch centralized authority.
Centralized authorities are, of course, out of touch by definition–impersonal, unable to consider the individual or his circumstance. They may begin relatively innocuously, but, driven by imperfect humans, inevitably grow in power and influence. That is why they are always such colossal long-term failures.
Doctors and nurses and maybe others here, upon reading Sandor’s article, will instantly be reminded of the use of maggots in wound care. Maggots eat only dead tissue, and will do an amazingly thorough job of debriding necrotic wounds, leaving behind fresh, living, growing tissue. (I have seen this occur naturally. It is amazing to see a once troubling, non-healing wound suddenly on a healing trend, tended by maggots.) Once the maggots transform into flies of course, there can be a very different picture, and that, in concert with our fear of all things unsanitary, has led us to ignore or even prohibit the use of maggots to treat necrotic wounds.
I suppose Sandor’s observation that maggots on pecorino cheese migrate from the creamy area to fresh cheese is related to maggots’ preference for a dead diet. (That could make the open minded wonder if the maggot-digested pecorino has an improved nutritional profile!)
I agree the maggot-digested pecorino more then likely does have an improved nutritional profile. Make sure you watch the video in the following link.
As for maggot wound debridement, it is increasing in popularity and represents a progressive step by the medical profession, albeit a desperate one, into the past.
Ive seen wounds naturally tended by maggots as well and it is indeed amazing. However, and I am not saying this as a warning but rather as an observation, maggots used for medical wound debridement are sterilized and for no other silly purpose but to cater to the medical establishments superstitious obsession with that which for the most part is beyond their control.
Green fluorescent protein-producing Escherichia coli were used to investigate the fate of bacteria in the alimentary tract of sterile grown maggots, Lucilia sericata (Meigen), using a laser scanning confocal microscope. A computer program was used to analyze the intensity of the fluorescence and to quantify the number of bacteria. The crop and the anterior midgut were the most heavily infected areas of the intestine. A significant decrease in the amount of bacteria was observed in the posterior midgut. The number of bacteria decreased even more significantly in the anterior hindgut and practically no bacteria were seen in the posterior end, near the anus. The viability of bacteria in the different gut sections was examined. It was shown that 66.7% of the crops, 52.8% of the midguts, 55.6% of the anterior hindguts, and 17.8% of posterior hindguts harbored living bacteria. In conclusion, during their passage through the digestive tract the majority of E. coli was destroyed in the midgut. Most of the remaining bacteria were killed in the hindgut, indicating that the feces were either sterile or contained only small numbers of bacteria.
If you haven’t done so already, you might consider starting a greenhouse. Of course, it might not be long before those are outlawed, as well.
Darwin treats loosers viciously. Lying to consumers and nature….is a bitch when it comes back arround. Every professor at UC San Luis Obispo and UC Davis that ever took a dime from Monsanto should go shoot themselves. The mantra of “feed the world” ( when you can not feed your self ), use BST hormones, and GET BIG OR GET OUT….sure worked didn’t it. Payback should be paid by the professors and the Monsantos and the processors that love low dairy prices. Instead real families are tortured.
OPDC thrives in the midst of this carnage….consider the differences in our practices, food chain relationships, and biologics of the final product. For the conscious CA dairyman, there is a lesson here.
It is too late to learn now….it is slaughter and BK time. I feel for them,….tragic!! CDFA should be ashamed. Their lack of pre-emptive leadership and vision has helped destroy a key CA agribusiness.
In the good years, they spend too much time at Pismo Beach in the 4×4 raised trucks and not enough time market building and listening to real consumers.
Stupid is as stupid does. There are rammifications for all actions and continued stupid actions have really bad outcomes. This one is really really ugly.
Every great movement and change needed a tragic incident. Bill you are right. These are the seeds of change. Too bad they were PMO CAFO GMO seeds with Cloned BST injected into them. All this tragedy upon CA dairymen and their families.
Where is their leadership??? Where is their change???? Will they just die off???
So very sad. Extinction comes to those that fail to learn, adapt and change with the environment.
I still have that kiss you gave me lingering on my cheek….if nothing else you are a great cheek kisser.
Got my attention. I am a sucker for affection. We need more love in this world. As Mike Schmidt says….Raw Milk is LOVE.
So I guess we need more kisses and raw milk in this world.
“recall of peanut butter and almond butter to include cashew butters, tahini and blanched and roasted peanut products.” “Some of the brand names included in the recall are Target’s Archer Farms, Safeway’s Open Nature, Earth Balance, Fresh & Easy, Late July, Heinen’s, Joseph’s, Natural Value, Naturally More, Peanut Power Butter, Serious Food, Snaclite Power, Sprouts Farmers Market, Sprouts, Sunland and Dogsbutter.
Sunland’s recall includes 101 products, and several retailers have issued additional recalls including items made with Sunland ingredients.”
Will they close them? Take them away in cuffs? Naw, they’re in bed with the so called regulators……
I’d not knowingly try any food with maggots, live or dead…yuck
You all seem to be talking about cheeses with critters. I have had cheese inhabited by little critters; it was a fine cheese, itsy-bitsy critters included. I wish I had more of it to enjoy. Such a wonder filled world this is. My wife passes on this one (with a roll of the eyes!).
A few weeks ago serious, non-specific, negative criticisms were made in a comment here at TCP with respect to The Untold Story Of Milk. I requested specificity. I have not, to my knowledge, seen a reply. Does anyone know anything about the substance of these comments that were made by MW?\
Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard
But I’m not sure I could get past the maggot thing either. I can see using them in a medicinal way, like they used to use leeches or whatever, but in my mouth, er, not so much. Of course you’re not really eating the maggots but still . . .
About the p. butter recall: why do people buy peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc.???? I’ve been making my own for so long I wouldn’t even think of buying a jar of any of those. Ewwww. Every time I think about peanut butter I remember a high school science project (and I’m old, keep that in mind!) where we set out to find out how many rodent hairs were allowed in things like peanut butter, hot dogs – whatever. What we found out was not pretty. It was enough to gag a maggot (pun intended).
Large specialized farming operations grew out of a demand for cheap food. Thy are white elephants, which lack the flexibility needed to effectively deal with catastrophic events such as overproduction and unpredictable weather patterns.
The article you referenced epitomizes a destructive and perverted way of dealing with a natural substance that has, as a result of human manipulation, evolved into an irritant for certain individuals. It parallels our ongoing, unhealthy manipulation of the microscopic world and likewise subsequent susceptibility to the organisms that live in that world. The term jumping from the frying pan into the fire describes well the above approach and indicative of humanities obsession with control.
I do recall reading about all the ‘crap’ the govt “allows” in our food. Disgusting for sure. Like you, I don’t buy premade p-butter, or other nut butters. Would a maggot eat a twinkie?
My Dad, as much as he loved dairy foods, would not eat cheese, other than cottage cheese. He could NOT get past the smell, he said. I have to agree about the smell of some cheeses, but they taste SO good.
I accept that as a true statement. In my mind I ask “Who demands cheap food?”
If two food vendors access one orange tree, each taking 100 oranges to sell and one
vendor can profitably price oranges at 2/3 the price of the other vendor, the one with
the lower price will get the customers that are low-price-driven.
But. If I offer you “food” that will not so much nourish your children but bring on weakness
and disease and all that at a drum-banging labor-day blowout sale price good through
sunday, I may have created demand, but for what?
Grandma: “I would rather spend money on food than on doctors.”
(a real Grandma, verbatim.)
These tools: education, refrigeration, transportation, and communication, can be used to heal the
breach between food producers and their customers, to the health benefit of all and to the
livelihood economic benefit of the food producers, their communities, counties, and states.
Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard
I have seen all sorts of crap come out of New Zealand. It seems as if the NZ farmers and researchers love to apply broad strokes to the uses of new science when it is not even tested or shown to be safe. A2 comes to mind. Not one independent test has been done to confirm A2 Milks values….yet marketing gurus love to speak about all of its virtues based on one book with two dead authors.
The very idea that one protein is responsible for allergies in children that consume milk is really a very narrow look at the all the causes of milk allergies.
Milk allergies are associated with milk processing…not a single milk protein as is claimed in the NZ cloned cows milk. That cloned cows milk will still cause all sorts of allergies if it is processed.
What that cow produces is an incomplete raw milk that is missing its protein. What they have created is a defective milk that is low protein…is that supposed to be some kind of newsm worthy Nobel Peace Prize break through??? only for an idiot.
Natures lab developed raw milk over many millions of years to be not allergenic and the perfect food to optimize a babies survival and growth. It is perfect food. Mankind is pretty darn arrogant to think that some GMO Cloned “Down Under” solution would be better than millions of years of GODS work.
Just stop messing with nature….put the cows on pasture and stop processing it….easy solution to food allergies. Making a partial food with missing proteins….not so smart. Who knows what kind of problems it will create.
Drink raw milk….a million years of gods work is a bet I will take for sure. Mankinds patented Clone greed is a bet I will run from every day.
You’re a pilot. Would you say the PMO world has flown into a box canyon?
Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard
Worse than a box canyon.
They do not have a pilot or a flight plan and now no more fuel….they are all passengers. Ouch!!
The pilot bailed out with all the money, the SOYMILK and GMO, BST years ago and left this rudderless, pilotless CAFO jumbo jet to crash all alone on the darkest of nights.
At least in a box canyon…there is a “Curtis Turn 180” to save the day. There are no turns for this CAFO PMO Jumbo in deep shit.
It is crashing…and it is painful to watch and very ugly. Sadly the funerals are all private and there is no connection to the public so…the public has very little empathy and pain to share with all the victums.