SANTA ANA, Calif. – Three Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) officers were charged today with petty theft and one with vandalism during a legal search of a marijuana dispensary pursuant to a search warrant. Brandon Matthew Sontag, 31, and Nicole Lynn Quijas, 37, and Jorge Arroyo, 32, are charged with one misdemeanor count of petty theft. Sontag is also charged with one misdemeanor count of vandalism under $400. If convicted on all counts, Arroyo and Quijas face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1000 fine and Sontag faces a one year and six months in jail and a $2000 fine. They are scheduled for arraignment April 11, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-54, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 5:50 p.m. on May 26, 2015, Arroyo, Quijas, and Sontag, along with other SAPD officers, were serving a search warrant signed by a magistrate on Sky High Holistic, a marijuana dispensary on 17thStreet in Santa Ana. It was alleged that the dispensary was operating without proper permits to sell medical marijuana. The dispensary had two video surveillance systems, a visible 16-camera system and a hidden 4-camera system. SAPD personnel legally disabled 16 surveillance cameras, following investigatory and officer safety protocol. The hidden 4-camera system continued to record during the execution of the search warrant.
Sontag is accused of damaging fiveof the previously disabled surveillance cameras by banging and smashing the camera lenses into the corner of a display case and cash register, and banging the cameras into the corner of a shelf and safe. Each camera is valued between $80 and $100. At various times, Sontag, Quijas, and Arroyo are accused of entering the break room and taking snacks available to staff, including Detour Simple protein bars and Mrs. Thinsters cookies. The three defendants are accused of consuming the food items and sharing the protein bars with other SAPD personnel. Before leaving the premises at the conclusion of the search warrant, Quijas and Arroyo are accused of taking extra cookies with them.
The Orange County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation conducted a thorough investigation, including interviewing multiple witnesses and reviewing over 16 hours of unedited video surveillance footage with the cooperation of SAPD. While other SAPD personnel ate some protein bars, there is insufficient evidence that they knew the food items belonged to the dispensary and not their fellow officers. There was also no evidence that any SAPD personnel consumed any edible marijuana items available at the dispensary.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Brett Brian of Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 16CM02387 / March 14, 2016