Investigation Unearths Marijuana Concentrate Production, Child Pornography


Giuseppe Ricapito
Isla Vista Beat Reporter

A cursory misdemeanor citation on the night of Wednesday, Jan. 8, escalated less than a week later into a slew of additional crimes that incriminated the roommate of the initial offender. Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies were citing an unnamed man on Wednesday evening for a minor in possession of alcohol (MIP) charge when the subject fled the scene.

According to news release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s Deputies and IV Foot Patrol Officers were able to ascertain the identity and address of the subject with assistance from local residents, but their arrival at his residence on the 6600 block of Sabado Tarde sparked a chain of events that far exceeded their original objective.

The roommate of the unnamed individual that received the MIP, 19-year-old University of California, Santa Barbara student Scott Lienhart, was discovered “in the back yard in the process of manufacturing concentrated cannabis,” according to the news release. Though Lienhart’s particular method could not be confirmed, the chemical production of cannabis concentrates typically involves a gaseous solvent such as butane or CO2.

Santa Barbara County Sherriff’s Office Detectives with the Criminal Investigations Division served a search warrant at the residence on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and in the course of their investigation, child pornography was found on Lienhart’s cell phone.

IV Foot Patrol Lt. Rob Plastino was unable to provide specific information about the nature of the pornography.

“Child pornography has a rigid set of criteria that must be met before a picture or video falls into that category,” Plastino said. “I can say that the evidence found was investigated by our Criminal Investigators and determined to be child porn.”

The news release states that Lienhart “was arrested and taken into custody” and subsequently “booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail for possession of child pornography.” Lienhart was released from police custody “on his recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment.”

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office is currently reviewing the additional charges of manufacturing drugs by chemical means and possession of a controlled substance. The DA’s office will also be responsible for setting sentencing guidelines regarding Lienhart’s possession of child pornography.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Public Information Office Kelly Hoover confirmed that Lienhart was in possession of California medical marijuana identification at the time of his arrest, but noted, “even if he did have a card he’s not authorized to make concentrated cannabis.”

Plastino corroborated with similar information, noting a clear distinction between marijuana and THC (marijuana’s active ingredient) concentrates.

“Keep in mind that he’s not being charged with possession of marijuana,” Plastino said. “He’s being charged with manufacturing an illegal substance from marijuana. Having a medical marijuana card doesn’t allow you to manufacture or possess concentrated cannabis, any more than having a prescription for vicodin allows you to grind it up and make a more potent version. Both are felony crimes.”

Though it was the roommate’s actions that sparked Lienhart’s arrest, his identity has been kept confidential because, according to Plastino, “he has no connection to the Child Porn or Concentrated Cannabis case that Lienhart is involved in.”