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LANCASTER GRANNIES LOSE IODINE-SALES CASE.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

LANCASTER - A jury convicted three Lancaster grandmothers Friday for illegally failing to get identification from customers who bought a methamphetamine ingredient at their feed store.

Armitta Granicy, Ramona Beck and Dorothy Manning - three sisters in their 60s - face up to six months in jail for each misdemeanor count, a verdict defense attorneys called an outrage and a travesty. The jury acquitted Armitta Granicy's husband.

``It was not a jury trial. All our defenses were taken away. The judge ruled against every defense we had,'' Armitta Granicy said after the verdicts. ``If it takes 12 people to try and figure out the law, how do they expect one person to?''

The Granicys own Granicy's Square feed store in east Lancaster. Beck and Manning operate a gift boutique in the store.

They were charged with failing to comply with a 1999 state law that requires sellers of crystallized iodine - a horse medicine as well as an ingredient for methamphetamine - to obtain identification and license-plate numbers from customers.

Manning said authorities never talked to her to inform her about what identification she was supposed to get. The state law was intended to make it easier for narcotics agents to identify people buying components for manufacturing methamphetamine.

``They never talked to me, period. They never said one word to me. I was taught to respect police and that courts were to be fair. The court and the police were not fair,'' said Manning.

During the trial, Armitta Granicy testified she had collected iodine buyers' names in a spiral notebook. She said she turned the information over to narcotics investigators but stopped collecting the names after five months, when the investigators stopped coming to her store to pick them up, she said.

Armitta Granicy, the only one of the four defendants to testify, also said she was worried about keeping the names in her store and that she was fearful a drug manufacturer might set fire to the store to destroy the evidence.

Authorities said undercover investigators bought iodine from the women without providing identification. One prosecution witness said Armitta Granicy acknowledged to him that crystalized iodine could be used to make drugs.

After more than three days of deliberation, the nine-man, three-women Lancaster Superior Court jury convicted Armitta Granicy, 60, of one count of failure to prepare a bill of sale for iodine.

Beck, 62, was convicted of two counts of failure to prepare a bill of sale. Manning, 67, was convicted of two counts of failure to prepare a bill of sale and one count of selling more than 8 ounces to an individual in a 30-day period.

The jury acquitted Robert Granicy of two counts, and Armitta Granicy of a second count and Beck of a third count.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 31. The defendants said they plan to appeal the verdict.

Prosecutors had contended the defendants sold the iodine out of ``old- fashioned greed,'' netting themselves between $46,000 and $68,000 in profit from January 1999 to March 2000.

Defense attorneys said their clients did their best to comply with a confusing, ``crazy, insidious'' law.

After the sentencing, the Granicys' attorney, Alison Bloom, blasted Judge David Mintz for instructing jurors Friday morning to disregard a section of the law that exempts sales of ``tincture of iodine or any topical solution containing iodine'' of $100 or less.

``The judge became the 13th juror today. He basically directed a verdict in the case. The judge stripped us of every defense,'' Bloom said. ``The judge, in what we believe is unprecedented, made a decision that the jury couldn't consider the law. He took the case out of the hands of the jury, and we asked for a jury trial, not a court trial.''

Bloom maintained Armitta Granicy did not know what ``tincture'' meant and believed she was exempt from the law because all the store's iodine sales were under $100.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Sherwood disputed Bloom's claims, saying that specific section of the law was not applicable to the case, and that whether Armitta Granicy knew what tincture meant was irrelevant.

``Whether she knew or not, it doesn't matter. They would have had to establish that she was selling tincture of iodine in a solution form,'' Sherwood said. ``There was plenty of evidence to suggest she (Armitta Granicy) knew exactly what she was selling.''

Sherwood said most jurors told him they felt following the law ``was a fairly simple thing to do, and they should've done it.''

More than an hour after the verdicts were read, Armitta Granicy seemed in good spirits, joking and laughing with family members and supporters assembled outside the courtroom.

``We put this in the hands of the Lord and left it there. The reaction isn't much. It's, 'OK, just go on to the next step,' '' Armitta Granicy said. ``This is in the hands of the Lord. This will work out.''

She said she had no regrets about rejecting an prosecution offer before the trial to drop criminal charges in return for a promise not to sell the crystalized iodine for two years.

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color in AV edition only) GRANICY

(2 -- color in AV edition only) BECK

(3 -- color in AV edition only) MANNING

(4 -- ran in AV edition only) Robert Granicy was acquitted of failure to comply with state law on sales of crystallized iodine.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 14, 2001
Words:899
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