Renton man, four others charged in Kirkland marijuana robbery
By MATT PHELPS
Renton Reporter Reporter
March 19, 2010 · Updated 11:39 AM
A transient known from Renton and four Bellevue men were charged in connection to a robbery at a medical-marijuana activist's Kirkland home March 15.
Renton's Hristo Tzenkov remains in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center, after being shot three times by homeowner Steve Sarich with a .22-caliver pistol.
Tzenkov was charged along with Jonathon Buell, Tyson Corcoran, Andrew J.J. Carrigan, and Dakota Laughren with first degree robbery and burglary.
The charges aren't the only legal fallout from the incident, as Sarich, 59, plans to sue the King County Sheriff's Office for what he calls vaguely worded laws that led to the crime scene turning into a "marijuana raid."
Sarich, who is executive director of an advocacy group for medical marijuana patients called CannaCare, uses medical marijuana he grows in his home to treat his degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis.
Tzenkov, who was armed with a shot gun, also injured Sarich, who was released from Evergreen Hospital hours after the incident.
Corcoran and Carrigan were employed by Sarich in the past.
Corcoran, along with Buell, both obtained their medical marijuana cards from another physician after attending a clinic on Sarich's property. Carrigan and Laughren also robbed Sarich recently.
Sarich's home contained 385 marijuana plants, along with foods that had been laced with the drug, according to the King County Sherrif's office.
Sarich disputes the number of plants according to the definition of the law, which is one of the reasons for his lawsuit.
According to charging documents in the case, the Washington State Department of Health defines the amount allowed as a 60-day supply, with no more than 24 ounces of usable marijuana.
It also states that there can be no more than 15 plants at any state of growth.
After officers searched Sarich's home, the sheriff's office left him with the legal amount of plants and he has not been charged with having more than the legal limit.
He declined to talk with the Kirkland Reporter about the lawsuit before consulting his lawyer on Monday.
Sarich told the Seattle Times that his home has been broken into eight times but that he has been hesitant to report the incidents for fear of having his plants taken, as they were on Monday.
"We do nothing whatsoever illegal here, but (the police) will probably come rob my house, cut down my (marijuana) plants and make me a victim twice in one day," Sarich said after the incident.
Sarich's concern for the safety of medical-marijuana patients and doctors stems, in part, from a recent incident where a CannaCare patient, Mike Howard, 38, was beaten to death during an alleged robbery attempt in Orting, Wash. on March 12.
Sarich, who worked to publicize the alleged murder over the weekend, said Howard died after he was clubbed in the head with a crowbar by robbers who were after his pot crop. Police later raided Howard's home and cut down his marijuana plants, Sarich said.
Prior to the incident on Monday, Sarich wrote to state legislators, criticizing state laws and the conduct of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.
"What happened to Mike Howard could happen to me, or any other patient in Washington as long as we can't trust the police to do their jobs."
Carrigan is being held on $250,000 bail while Laughren, a convicted felon, and Buell are each being held on $300,000 bail, according to court documents.
Tzenkov, who claims that he lives with Buell in Bellevue, will also be held on $300,000 bail and will be booked once he is released from the hospital. Corcoran posted a $10,000 bail and was released Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors had asked that he be held on $250,000 bail.
The suspects will be arraigned March 30 at the Regional Justice Center in Kent. Tzenkov also faces an additional charge of first degree burglary.
Reporter Celeste Gracey contributed to this report.Contact Renton Reporter Reporter Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org.