Danuel and Mary Quaintance of Pima face up to 40 years in prison each if convicted on felony charges of conspiracy and transporting more than 100 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute, according to an Associated Press report.
The couple is scheduled to go to trial in Federal District Court in Albuquerque on Jan. 16.
The Associated Press report states the Quaintances founded the Church of Cognizance in 1991. Danuel Quaintance claims the Church of Cognizance has 40 to 50 members in Arizona.
The Quaintances contend their church practices the Zoroastrian faith, but Rustom Kevala, a Zoroastrian leader, told the Eastern Arizona Courier in July that the Church of Cognizance’s practices are inconsistent with the Zoroastrian religion.
U.S. District Court Judge Judith Herrera refused to dismiss charges against the Quaintances on Dec. 22, saying they do not have a sincere religious belief.
The Quaintances were arrested in Lordsburg, N.M., on Feb. 22, 2006, while transporting 172 pounds of marijuana.