Nj weedman found not guilty in witness tampering trial, plans jail release party gsa 2016 calendar


At Forchion’s initial trial last November, a jury of his peers found him not guilty of second-degree witness tampering but deadlocked over whether he was guilty or not of third-degree witness tampering, prompting Mercer County Superior Court Judge Anthony Massi to declare a mistrial.

The retrial kicked off this month to settle the outstanding question on whether Forchion was guilty or not guilty of third-degree witness tampering. The 12 jurors in the retrial unanimously agreed the state failed to meet its burden of proof, acquitting Forchion of any wrongdoing.

Forchion, 53, who called himself “Political Prisoner #420,” originally got indicted on two counts of witness tampering in a case that was intrinsically linked with another pending criminal case against him. The NJ Weedman used to operate a restaurant on East State Street in Trenton and is accused of using the joint as a den for drug use and distribution.

Police relied upon a confidential informant to build that 2016 drug case against him, and Forchion subsequently identified that person on multiple video sessions and social media postings, calling the person “the rat” and describing him as “a slimy dude,” adding, “I don’t claim to be an angel, but I’m not a slimy dude.”

Forchion used social media to expose the so-called rat. For example, he posted a YouTube video identifying the confidential informant by name and revealing the person’s town of residence and high school alma mater. The self-described peaceful pothead in that video disparaged the informant as being “a swindler” and “drug addict” who is “always conniving and scheming.”

“If you ask me straight up would you do seven years or let this guy get shot in the head, I’d let him get shot in the head. My concern is beating this case, by any means necessary,” Forchion told The Trentonian in a September 2016 interview about “the rat.” That published statement, prosecutors said last year, was an example of Forchion issuing a “threat of force” against the witness — a second-degree crime — but the jury in the first trial unanimously rejected the state’s “threat of force” argument, acquitting Forchion of that second-degree crime.

A self-confident Forchion in one of his monologue videos elicited diabolical laughter and said he would be “fighting it out” rather than pleading guilty to resolve his legal troubles. He accused the informant of cooperating with police “to put me in a cage for a plant.”

The marijuana legalization advocate has a lengthy rap sheet and three active criminal cases pending before Mercer County Superior Court. One of the pending matters is a cyber harassment case. The other pending matters are two drug cases, including the high-profile police raid of April 27, 2016, when the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at Forchion’s former East State Street businesses and allegedly seized more than $19,000 in marijuana in an operation that ended with Forchion and several other defendants getting arrested.

The confidential informant who NJ Weedman refers to as “the rat” helped police develop probable cause to initiate that April 2016 raid. Forchion posted bail in that case and soon thereafter engaged in a prolonged social media crusade to expose “the rat” even as prosecutors filed a protective order motion seeking to safeguard the confidential informant from being entrenched under the public spotlight.

On Feb. 28, 2017, a grand jury handed up a direct indictment charging Forchion with one count of second-degree witness tampering and one count of third-degree witness tampering. Several days later, police arrested the self-described peaceful pothead at his business partner’s home in Parsippany on March 3, 2017. The arrest occurred while Forchion was livestreaming on Facebook.

Forchion for the last 14 months was being incarcerated without bail at the Mercer County Correction Center on pretrial detention. During that time, his case went through a series of theatrics with the melodrama of a soap opera. For example, Forchion had a very public falling out with his former defense attorney Edward Heyburn and as recently as this week accused Judge Massi of bamboozling the jurors when they asked the court whether it is against the law to try to learn the identity of a confidential informant.

Massi answered the jury by instructing them to refer to pages 19 through 23 of their jury charges that provided a legal definition of witness tampering. Forchion took umbrage with that decision, saying such a response would confuse the jurors because it is not against the law, he said, for a defendant to try to learn the identity of a confidential informant. “I think they are looking for a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’” Forchion said.

The person who Forchion labeled as “the rat” was the victim in NJ Weedman’s witness tampering case. In addition to identifying the informant on social media, Forchion also mailed physical packages to the informant’s closest family members containing vulgar contents, prompting the informant’s father to testify against NJ Weedman.

The state accused Forchion of knowingly engaging in conduct that a “reasonable person” would believe would cause a witness or informant to do at least one of the following four things: (1) Testify or inform falsely; (2) withhold any testimony, information, document or thing; (3) elude legal process summoning him to testify or supply evidence; or (4) absent himself from any proceeding or investigation to which he has been legally summoned.

Forchion still has outstanding legal battles to fight in his drug and cyberbullying cases that could lead to prison time if he gets convicted on any of those charges, but as of Thursday he was set to return home as a peaceful pothead with the presumption of innocence in his active cases.