The judge sentencing a Williams Lake couple convicted last week of grow-op related charges said they believed they had done nothing wrong and had a God-given right to grow marijuana.
“They have a notion that at common law they are not engaging in illegal activity,” Justice Miriam Gropper said during her sentencing of Joseph and Catherine Zombori in B.C. Supreme Court in Williams Lake Thursday. “They are simply wrong. In a just, peaceful and democratic society, citizens are not entitled to pick and choose the laws that apply to them. That is anarchy.”
The Zomboris, who seem to follow the freeman on the land movement, were found guilty of possession of marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and for removing the hydro metre from the outside of their Fox Mountain home.
Throughout the trial by jury held the first two weeks of April 2014, where they were found guilty, the Zomboris represented themselves and insisted they were not bound to the law.
That attitude was still evident during the sentencing where Mr. Zombori constantly interrupted the judge and yelled a profanity at her.
As Gropper began her deliberation, Mr. Zombori interjected.
“Who is Joe, I need to know who Joe is?” he shouted.
“You are sentencing a person and I need to know who that person is.”
Gropper looked at him and said, “I am talking about you.”
He shouted back: “I am a man of common law I am not a you. Bring forth the man or woman forward to claim that I have done wrong.”
As Gropper continued to read her sentencing, Mr. Zombori kept talking and at one point told the judge she was destroying his life.
“I am not going to be quiet,” he insisted. “As a man of common law I have a person, I’m not the person. You have charged the person and I’m curious what you are going to do about that?”
Eventually Gropper asked the four sheriffs in the court room to restrain him so she could continue sentencing.
When Mr. Zombori began protesting that the sheriffs did not have permission to touch him, they placed him on the ground.
There were six people in the court room to support the Zomboris.
“Leave him alone,” one woman told the sheriffs. “Don’t fight Joe,” another person said.
Turning to the Justice, Mr. Zombori swore at her and kept yelling, demanding that she verify he had done wrong.
At that point Gropper recessed the court for 15 minutes.
When court resumed, Mr. Zombori refused to stand up, so the sheriffs dragged him back into the court room.
Throughout the remainder of the sentencing, the Zomboris remained calmer, however, they did not look toward the judge, for the most part, but rather talked to each other.
Mrs. Zombori straightened her husband’s tie, offered him water to drink, or approached the gallery to speak with their supporters.
The charges against the Zomboris resulted after an RCMP search warrant was executed on June 5, 2012 at the family’s 659 Mikulasik Road property on Fox Mountain in Williams Lake.
During the search police discovered the basement of the residence had a number of rooms outfitted for marijuana production along with supplies for a grow-op. They also found 259 growing cannabis marijuana plants inside and 19 growing outside.
“While the police were conducting the search, Catherine was inside the house with two children and Joseph arrived while the police were conducting the search,” Gropper said.
In 2001, Mr. Zombori served a six-month jail sentence for possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Justice Gropper sentenced Mr. Zombori to an 18-month-jail sentence, followed by probation, while his wife is serving a 12-month conditional sentence so she can remain at home with their children.
Mr. Zombori works as an electrician, while his wife home schools their children and does the bookkeeping.
The Crown is seeking forfeiture of the exhibits seized by police during the search warrant and of the property itself, but will delay that application until Mrs. Zombori has completed her sentence, Gropper said.