McDonald Pleads Not Guilty, Seeks Release

Longtime downtown Mill Valley shopkeeper remains in custody on a host of drug-related charges after March raid.

Nearly three weeks after a  on his downtown Mill Valley novelty shop led to his arrest on an , Dave McDonald pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to eight felony charges.

McDonald, 70, also requested on Tuesday through his attorney Camille Bosworth of the Marin County Public Defender's to be released on his own recognizance, a move that would allow him to leave the Marin County Jail without paying the $50,000 bail he faces. When Judge Paul Haakenson hears that request Thursday morning, he will weigh it against the seriousness of McDonald's alleged crimes, his previous criminal record, the danger he might pose to the community and his ties to nearby family and the local community.

McDonald, who has been the proprietor of the  at 74 Throckmorton Ave. for 45 years, was arrested at his business at around 3 p.m. on March 23 during a  that had brought downtown business to a halt.

Neighbors said they were stunned at the size and force of the raid, in which agents from the West Contra Costa County Narcotic Enforcement Team (West-Net), the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force and the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement stormed the tiny storefront wearing helmets and shields.

Agents spent several hours searching the Pleasure Principle, as well as McDonald’s home in Fairfax and his van that was parked outside his store. The agents found 15 to 20 pounds of methamphetamine or ephedrine, an ingredient used in its production, according to Tim Jung, West-Net task force commander.

Jung said agents also found $29,000 in cash and two loaded guns, a revolver and a semiautomatic rifle.

The raid capped off a investigation that went back two months, Jung said, though he declined to comment on the origins of the investigation or why his agency was involved in a Marin bust.

McDonald faces eight felony charges, according to Deputy District Attorney Sean Kensinger. Those charges include possession for sale of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance while possessing ephedrine with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of suspected drugs while armed with a loaded gun, maintaining a location for drug crimes, possession of ephedrine with intent to manufacture methamphetamine and transporting and selling a controlled substance.

Equally confusing to McDonald's neighboring business owners was the allegation that he had $29,000 in cash in his possession, despite the fact that he had fallen behind on rent payments over the past year and faced possible eviction from his landlord Steve McNamara, who’d given McDonald until the end of March to move out of the space. 

Lou Judson April 13, 2011 at 04:10 PM
What time and room is the hearing? I'd like to show up in support. I believe this is a frameup, and the charges bogus. The timing and nature of the bust is extremely suspicious, and Dave is a nice guy as far as I know.
Jim Welte April 14, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Hey Lou - it's at 9am in Dept. F.


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