A pastor in Los Angeles has been dismissed from his role as top aid to the local sheriff's department after it was discovered he owns a property in South Los Angeles that houses a medical marijuana shop.
Bishop Edward R. Turner, who has worked as a paid field deputy for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and served as the head of the department's Multi-Faith Clergy Council for over a decade, was given paid leave from his position beginning Tuesday after the department learned that the property he owns at 1425 W. Manchester Ave. in South Los Angeles, across the street from his Power of Love Christian Fellowship ministries and church, was housing a medical marijuana shop that does not fit the criteria for medical marijuana dispensaries approved by the city's voters in May. The city has been on a slow mission to close the clinics that do not fit the voter-approved criteria passed by Proposition D.
In addition to having this marijuana dispensary on his property, Turner is also being investigated for his involvement in the Helping Our People Excel for Life Foundation, a nonprofit community group that had its charity status recently revoked after it failed to file taxes for the past three years. Public records indicate Turner is listed as chairman and founder of the nonprofit.
"An internal affairs investigation has been launched into Bishop Turner," sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told the L.A. Times. "This is first the sheriff had heard of these allegations."
Whitmore went on to say that officials are looking into what Turner knew about the medical marijuana shop and "when he knew it." The shop reportedly sells marijuana-infused cookies, brownies, and smoking accessories to those providing a valid medical marijuana prescription.
According to KABC-TV, Turner's official duties as field deputy to the L.A. sheriff's office were reaching out to religious leaders of all faiths in Los Angeles on behalf of Baca to better connect the community to the local police department. He has held the position as field deputy with the sheriff's deaprtment and head of the Sheriff's Multi-Faith Clergy Council since 2000, and reportedly makes over $100,000 a year, as well as receiving a county car, gas and cellphone. One of the main events Turner has organized in the past is the Sheriff office's annual "Multi-Faith Prayer Breakfast," donations from which go to Turner's nonprofit.
When asked by KABC-TV why Turner failed to notify the sheriff's office of the medical marijuana dispensary on his property, Turner said: "It's not that I'm trying to hide anything. It's just there it is right there. I just did not think to bring it to the sheriff."