ROUND ROCK, TX — A young man’s baked goods could potentially land him with a harsher punishment than a rapist or a murderer. The teen faces a a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of using unsanctioned ingredients in his cookies and brownies and selling them to eager customers.
According to police, 19-year-old Jacob Lavoro would accommodate customers’ requests to bake them desserts with a special ingredient — marijuana. For $25 he would allegedly sell his brownies and cookies to folks who wished to enjoy them. According to a text conversation, he would even deliver them.
Police searched Lavoro’s apartment and found six (6) bags of cookies, nine (9) bags of brownies, baking ingredients, illegal plant material, and cash.
One of the ingredients seized was a container of coconut oil blended with marijuana and hash oil. The green oily substance was allegedly used in his recipes.
When charging people with drug offenses involving baked goods, Texas law allows police to use the weight of the entire finished product when determining the severity of charge. Even if a trace amount of marijuana was used in a recipe for a pan of brownies, police use the collective weight of all the ingredients — eggs, butter, chocolate, sugar, frosting — and use that figure as the total weight of the “drug” they confiscated.
Police say that the baked goods and ingredients seized from Jacob Lavoro’s apartment weighed 660 grams — or 1.45 pounds. In the Texas “justice” system, this amount of illegal plant material carries a weighty sentence.
Police charged Lavoro with the possession, manufacture, and delivery of a controlled substance in a “Penalty 2 Group.” With a weight of nearly a pound and a half, the 1st Degree Felony charge carries a sentence of 5 years to life in prison.
“This case is the perfect example of the insanity of Texas’ drug laws,” said Jamie Spencer, legal counsel for the Texas chapter the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“Possession of the smallest amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor,” Spencer said. “Possession of the tiniest amount of hash, even a gram, is a state jail felony.”
Spencer noted that the lengthy sentencing possibilities for drug offenders are “higher than the punishment range for sexual assault, higher than the punishment range for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.”
“It’s outrageous. It’s crazy. I don’t understand it,” said the teen’s father, Joe Lavoro, who was blindsided by the efforts and abilities of the government to destroy his son. “This is illogical. I’m really upset and I’m frightened. I’m frightened for my son.”
The teen is being represented by attorney Jack Holmes, who is prepared to fight for justice. Holmes said had the alleged materials not been baked into brownies, it would have been a misdemeanor charge.
Holmes noted: “This is the county that withheld evidence in the Morton Case, where a man spent 25 years in prison and he was completely innocent. So you have to keep that in mind, too.”
The last reports say that Jacob Lavoro is still being held in jail on $30,000 bond. If convicted, he wouldn’t be the first person to spend years — even life — in prison over the harmless, victimless crime involving marijuana.
As the old saying goes, “Everything is bigger in Texas” — including the injustice.
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Months later, prosecutors have unsurprisingly refused to drop the felony charges and continue to let the threat of life in prison loom over the Lavoro family. Jacob is currently stuck in a legal “waiting game.” His fate remains uncertain as he faces shifting hearing dates, FOX-7 reported.
“All my personal freedoms were taken away from me and whether that was their intent or not, it happened,” Jacob Lavoro told the local station. “Needless to say, it’s made me really depressed.”
“Can you imagine hugging your son goodbye and for him to serve a life sentence. Five years, two years, a year for marijuana? C’mon, it’s ridiculous. I’m getting angry. I’m getting angry at Williamson County. They’ve got to stop this. Stop being so political with it,” said Joe Lavoro to FOX-7.
Tell the D.A. to drop the felony charges against Jacob Lavoro.
Williamson County District Attorney’s Office (Texas)
District Attorney Jana Duty
Phone: (512) 943-1100