Winslow Lazer Norton (top), who also goes by the rap alias “Blanco” and his brother Abraham have struck a plea deal in their long-running federal case. Winslow’s Blue Star Corner residence was the subject of a recent morning DEA raid that rattled the Park Avenue District neighborhood. The brothers were originally arrested in 2007 while living in Oakland on federal charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilos of marijuana and money laundering.
The Berkeley raised-brothers founded and operated one of the most successful medical marijuana dispensaries in the Bay Area, the Compassionate Patients’ Cooperative of California, in Hayward. In just the first six months of 2007, the operation grossed $26 million. Last month, Winslow was pulled over in Marin for talking on his cell-phone and arrested for possession of 2 pounds of marijuana and $15,000 in cash. The arrest led to the federal government revoking his bail.
The Nortons have become something of a cause celebre in the movement to legalize marijuana.The Nortons said in an interview with the San Francisco Bay Guardian a year ago that they ran a “squeaky clean” operation and that it was ironic the feds were picking on them because they might have been the first medical marijuana outlet to voluntarily pay sales tax.
They have been fighting the federal charge since and have been represented by Doron Weinberg, the high-profile defense lawyer who defended record producer Phil Spector in his 2007 murder trial. The Plea deal includes a six month sentence in jail and six months of home detention. They also agreed to forfeit some $600,000 in revenues. Sentencing is set for August, but Winslow, 32, has already started serving his time.