Anthony Wagner | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)
Anthony Wagner, the former Santa Barbara police spokesperson and retail cannabis regulator at the center of a tantalizing but ultimately inaccurate Los Angeles Magazine article, is demanding the publication retract the lengthy expose by screenwriter Mitchell Kriegman and pay $4.6 million in damages and attorneys fees. The demand came in the form of a seven-page letter sent June 11 by Wagner’s attorney, Michele B. Friend, to magazine president and publisher Shelby Russell. Should Russell fail to respond, a lawsuit is likely to be filed.
“Mr. Kriegman and LA Magazine paint a shocking cinematic picture for a reader to believe that Mr. Wagner is like a mobster with a history of corruption who was not fit to be hired but mysteriously got the job through an improper relationship with a female supervisor, that he impersonated a police officer, waiving his badge while assaulting a private citizen, and that he misused his position to gain valuable cannabis licenses for his friends,” the letter stated while outlining what it describes as the article’s “32 gross inaccuracies.” “The outrageous claims are entirely false and misleading, and they have caused significant damage to Mr. Wagner and his family.”
The central conceit of the March 12 piece was a not-so-veiled accusation that Wagner gave special treatment to a retail cannabis applicant with whom he’d previously worked in San Diego. That allegation, however, turned out to be patently false, and an investigation launched by the Santa Barbara Police Department exonerated Wagner of any wrongdoing.
Published: June 16, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News