Christie receives 5 years


The wife of a Hilo man who was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for having 284 marijuana plants called his sentence — and hers — “disappointing.”

Sherryanne “Share” Christie, the wife of Roger Christie, received a 27-month prison sentence for her role in what prosecutors described as a drug distribution ring. She said she has “prayed for the persecutors” and “gotten the anger out already.”

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi handed down the sentences to the Christies in Honolulu.

Roger Christie, who pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana plants, will receive credit for the almost four years he has been incarcerated, which means he’ll be released in less than 15 months.

“I’m sorry my actions or inactions have left my co-defendants in legal trouble,” he told the judge, adding he looks forward to appealing his sentence, which his plea deal allows.

He’ll be put on supervised release — the federal equivalent of probation — for four years after serving his prison term. Kobayashi said she would have preferred to give him just one year of supervised release, but couldn’t under federal sentencing guidelines.

Share Christie was also sentenced to three years of supervised release in addition to her prison term. She will be allowed to remain free on bail pending appeal of her sentence.

“I’ve seen killers and rapists who have gotten less time,” she said. “For me, I’ll be serving eight years — the five years Roger is going to be serving and me going in for three. It feels like I’m already in prison.”

“It feels like it doesn’t matter what I say or anything; they’ve already got their mind made up. It’s not really about me. Until the laws are changed and until people become brave enough … to go (advocate) for legislation, it’s just going to be the same thing. People are going to have to get strong.”

Roger Christie said his religion is based on helping people heal through the “sacrament” of medical marijuana.

Christie, the founder of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, also known as the THC Ministry, and his wife tried to fight the charges on religious grounds, but the couple pleaded guilty after Kobayashi ruled against allowing a defense based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Prosecutors say the Christies used religion as a front for drug trafficking and ministry members paid “donations” in exchange for marijuana.

Christie “was always pushing the limits to see how far he could go in his marijuana trafficking activities under the auspices of the ministry,” prosecutors said in court documents filed last week. “Christie was clearly in this marijuana trafficking business for financial gain, inasmuch as the ministry’s marijuana and associated paraphernalia sales … were the sole source of income to sustain co-defendant Sherryanne L. Christie … and himself.”

The documents state the couple lived a modest but comfortable lifestyle. Roger Christie also pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to file a tax return. As part of his plea agreement, he will forfeit his apartment and more than $21,000 seized by federal agents.

A federal grand jury indicted the Christies and 12 others on marijuana trafficking counts after a July 8, 2010, raid of the ministry. Roger Christie has been in federal detention since, while Share Christie has been free on bail.

The Associated Press contributed.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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