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Day Was Bleak for Zeke-- It Went From Bad to Verse

Times Staff Writer

“Zeke the Sheik,” the alter ego of an Altadena man whose testimony in rhymes last March entertained an entire courtroom, stood mute Friday as a Pasadena judge sentenced him to 60 days in jail and five years’ probation for cultivating, possessing and selling marijuana.

Timothy Dundon, 42, wearing a floor-length caftan and a headdress, listened without expression as Pasadena Superior Court Judge Lillian M. Stevens imposed the sentence requiring him to submit to periodic drug testing and police searches of his Altadena farmhouse. In addition, he was fined $1,000 and required to perform 160 hours of community service.

Dundon, who created his Zeke alter ego 10 years ago to promote the legalization of marijuana and the use of his home-grown fertilizer, had prepared a list of 14 rhymes for the hearing. But he stood quiet, a Bible and a two-pound package of the fertilizer before him, as the judge rejected arguments that Dundon should be spared jail time because marijuana is an essential part of his religious beliefs.

“I have no objection to the way you dress or the way you speak,” Stevens told Dundon. “I have no objection to your particular life style except as it applies to you breaking the law.

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Not Amused

“There were some people who thought your trial was amusing. But the court did not laugh. I did not take it as a joke,” Stevens said. “This court takes the view that the law must be applied equally . . . to the clever as well as the dull.”

The hearing was in sharp contrast to Dundon’s trial March 6, in which he was found guilty of four felony counts. In what one veteran prosecutor called the “funniest, most hilarious” trial he had ever experienced, Dundon gave 20 minutes of verse that left attorneys, sheriff’s deputies and a court reporter in stitches.

At the trial, Dundon pleaded not guilty to the charges, but then delivered a series of rhymes that served as a confession. He offered the Scriptures as his only defense for growing the illegal weed in greenhouses and on the roof of his run-down, two-story farmhouse, which he incorporated in 1976 as the “Promised Land.”

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Outside the courtroom Friday, Dundon said he was uncertain if he could follow the conditions of the sentence, which he said deny him religious freedom by prohibiting him from smoking marijuana. Dundon said the Bible is filled with references to man’s dominion over all herbs and grasses that grow on the Earth.

Question Posed

“How can the court’s law be above God’s law?” Dundon asked. “If the court was concerned about things that harm people, why don’t they ban alcohol and pornography.”

Then Dundon launched into one of his rhymes, which come at the rate of one per minute when he gets rolling.

I’m the clown in the brown-bound gown ,

The most profound clown who’s ever been found ,

Who’s here to expound on the brown mound on the ground.

But for some reason people fear the seer engineer ,

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Who has come to commandeer the sphere.

Before he ran afoul of the law, Dundon spent his days promoting and selling the fertilizer piled in “brown mounds” in his yard. The fertilizer is part household garbage, part mulch from a neighborhood cemetery and part droppings from chickens, ducks and a turkey that reside on Dundon’s farm.

Dundon, a divorced father of two who makes a living doing odd jobs, said he would appeal his conviction on First Amendment grounds. However, the appeal will not stay Dundon’s sentence, which begins June 3.

Suitable Jail

Stevens agreed that Dundon’s alter ego might not fit in well with hardened criminals at the County Jail. So the judge gave Dundon’s attorney, Ray Fountain, two weeks to find a local jail suitable to Dundon, who does not have a previous criminal record.

“The real issue is whether Dundon can survive the terms of the sentence,” said Loren Naiman, the deputy district attorney handling the case. “Given his stated beliefs about marijuana, I’m not so sure we might not see Zeke the Sheik again in this court.”


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