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DA: Dave McDonald Can Have His $29K Back

Former Mill Valley shop owner, who was found guilty of selling a fake illegal narcotic last month, will have money returned to him after the prosecution decided to drop claim to the seized funds earlier this week.

After the of Dave McDonald's now-defunct shop on Throckmorton Ave., as well as his van and his Fairfax home, officials from the West Contra Costa County Narcotic Enforcement Team (West-Net) said they .

Fast forward 16 months and the case against McDonald has been virtually turned on its head.

While McDonald was to an undercover agent, he was acquitted of the two other charges he faced. Although he could still face jail time for the crime - his sentence is Sept. 26 - it's a far cry from the , and further still from the immediate days after the raid.

The guns turned out to be dusty relics. The huge bags of powder mostly tested negative for what they were purported to be.

And the money? On Aug. 17, prosecutors withdrew their petition for McDonald to forfeit the $29,215 in cash.

"The money will be returned to Mr. McDonald," said Deputy District Attorney Sean Kensinger, who said McDonald simply needs to pick up a check from the Marin County District Attorney's office.

<McDonald may not get to keep all of the money, however. Public Defender Michael Coffino acknowleged that McDonald may have to reimburse the County of Marin for his defense now that he can pay for it. Judge Paul Haakenson will likely make a determination on the matter after issuing a sentence in the case.

"The judge may ask him to reimburse the county for the cost of his defense," Coffino said. "That would happen after the sentencing hearing."

McDonald, who has yet to receive his seized cash, has said testimony from his brother, who lives in Canada and had been sending him money for years to help keep the Pleasure Principle (McDonald received a notice of eviction shortly before his arrest and the shop never reopened after the arrest) afloat, was vital in showing that the cash was not illicit.

McDonald said he hopes that the process will go smoothly and that he'll get his money back in short order.

"I have to sign for the assets, identify myself, and then I should be able to get it," he said. "The guy I spoke to on the phone yesterday didn't say if it was going to be today or tomorrow, but it sounded like it could be soon."

Despite his acquittal on two of the three charges he faced, McDonald potentially faces a prison sentence of 16 to 36 months, though nothing is certain until the sentencing slated for Sept. 26.

Rico August 23, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I was wondering exactly what is the law regarding "selling fake narcotics". I have never heard of anyone being convicted of that, so could someone please explain how this works. First off, it was the cops who claim that Dave was selling fake narcotics to them, and Dave never said that what he was selling was a narcotic. I think Dave got the bad end of the stick on this phony setup of a bust. Dave already spent 3 months in the county jail, more than enough punishment for getting caught up in this entrapment. I think Dave might just get probation for 1 year, and do no more time in the county jail or the State Pen. But from now on, Dave will have to watch his tail, and no more selling Mannitol or any other white powders, especially to the feds. This really is a landmark textbook case that will be studied by law students forever on. Only in Marin !

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