Monroe man sentenced to 5 years for his role in family’s marijuana operation

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted June 03, 2013, at 1:13 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The elder son of a Waldo County couple accused of running a large scale marijuana operation out of the first floor of their home was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to five years in prison.

James T. Ford, 35, of Monroe pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing 100 or more marijuana plants and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

His younger brother, Paul Ford , 32, of Swanville, pleaded guilty May 7 to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants at his parents’ Monroe home and manufacturing 50 or more marijuana plants at his Swanville residence.

Both men, who were free on bail before entering guilty pleas, are being held without bail pending sentencing as required by federal law.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced James T. Ford to five years of supervised release.

He faced between five and 40 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $5 million on the conspiracy charge. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the younger brother faced between five years, 10 months and seven years, three months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCormick recommended Woodcock impose a sentence within the guideline range while Federal Public Defender Virginia Villa urged the judge to impose the mandatory minimum.

In imposing the five-year-sentence, Woodcock warned James T. Ford that he would deal harshly with the defendant if he violated his supervised release.

“I will give you a break today, but I will not give you a break tomorrow,” Woodcock said.

The mother of the two men, Darlene Ford, 57, of Monroe pleaded not guilty May 7 to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place, and aiding and abetting a felon in the possession of a firearm.

The men’s father, James F. Ford , 57, of Monroe last year pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing 100 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The couple remains free on bail while awaiting trial.

Members of the Ford family were arrested in November 2011 when the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency raided the family’s Swan Lake Avenue garage where they allegedly grew hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of marijuana.

During the raid, police seized more than 300 marijuana plants, in various stages of growth, 10 pounds of processed marijuana and two semiautomatic assault weapons. According to police, the potential street value of the marijuana found in the home was more than $800,000. Jim Pease of the MDEA said in November 2011 that the parents were suspected of harvesting about 20 pounds of marijuana every three months and shipping it to Massachusetts.

It’s reportedly not the first time the family had cultivate marijuana. James T. Ford was convicted in 2002 for growing marijuana inside his home in Weymouth, Mass., and spent two years in prison for the crime, Pease said.

The indictment alleged that the family had been growing marijuana in Maine since 2006 and built the Swan Lake Avenue home in 2005 in order to do that. The garage had nothing in it except a workbench, where guns were built, and grow rooms, according to previously published reports.

The growing operation consisted of a hydration system to water the plants and growing lights, according to a press release from the Maine State Police. Pease estimated the growing equipment was valued at $80,000 and said some of the plants were 6 feet tall and ready for harvest.

The parents lived above the garage in an apartment.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of the property from James F. and Darlene Ford.

Their younger son, Paul Ford, faces between five and 40 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $5 million on the most serious charge, conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants. If convicted, their mother would face the same sentence.

Due to his Massachusetts conviction, patriarch James F. Ford faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in prison and fine of up to $8 million on the same charge.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/03/news/court/monroe-man-sentenced-to-5-years-for-his-role-in-familys-marijuana-operation/ printed on July 12, 2014