Laytonville Man Sentenced to 44 Months After Conviction Stemming from Hash Lab Explosion
Press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office’s Facebook page:
A Laytonville man, who in the course of chemically extracting THC from marijuana in a home garage caused an explosion and fire that demolished the house, was sentenced to state prison Friday afternoon. Maurice Alfredo Vionnet, age 40, received a 44 month prison commitment, his having earlier been convicted of manufacturing concentrated cannabis (“honey oil”), child endangerment, and unlawfully causing a fire of a structure, all felonies. The rental home, valued at $400,000, was a complete loss. The local fire department called for law enforcement help when while fighting the fire they discovered a significant number of empty butane cans and other BHO manufacturing evidence at the scene. The child endangerment conviction flows from the fact that the bedroom where Vionnet’s two young [children] slept was directly over the garage where the manufacturing process was taking place and where the explosion and fire originated.
While the public defender argued that Vionnet had only two prior misdemeanor convictions and had learned his lesson, Deputy DA Daniel Madow forcefully argued that the danger posed to the defendant’s family, the responding firemen, and the neighbors was too great of a risk and that Vionnet had legitimately earned his way to state prison. After listening to both sides intently, Superior Court John Behnke ultimately deciding that the extreme danger the defendant posed to his family was just too great. It was also noted that Vionnet stood convicted of punching a Sheriff’s deputy in a separate matter and that “bath salts” were found in his pocket after that arrest.
After leaving the courtroom, DA David Eyster warned that alcohol and BHO labs are not covered by the Compassionate Use Act, that they are a significant danger hiding in our local communities, and that prosecutors will continue to seek state prison sentences for those who don’t heed the warning and continue illegal manufacturing activities.
Our thanks to the first responders in this matter — the members of the Long Valley Fire Department. The law enforcement agencies who investigated these crimes were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force. Fire investigation assistance was provided by Cal Fire. DDA Caitlin Keane prepped the case and would have been the trial prosecutor had this matter gone before a jury.