June 23, 2018
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Mistrial declared for Monroe woman accused of growing pot after jury fails to reach verdict

Darlene Ford,
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A federal judge declared a mistrial Thursday when the jury in the trial of a Monroe woman accused of growing marijuana between 2006 and 2011 with her husband and sons failed to reach a verdict after more than nine hours of deliberation.

The trial of Darlene Ford, 58, began Monday in U.S. District Court.

The jury of seven men and five women left the courthouse about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday after deliberating for nearly six hours. Jurors resumed deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Jurors informed U.S. District Judge John Woodcock about 11:30 a.m. that they were deadlocked. He instructed them to reconsider their positions. Less than 30 minutes later, the judge received another note.

Woodcock asked jurors whether further deliberations would be fruitful. Most shook their heads no, while a few answered, “No.” After that inquiry, the judge declared a mistrial in the case and dismissed the jury.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCormack, who prosecuted the case, said the government will retry Ford but he is not sure when a new trial would be scheduled.

“The government should dismiss the charges against Darlene Ford and prosecute the people against whom they have evidence of wrongdoing,” defense attorney Don Brown of Brewer said when asked about a possible retrial.

Ford testified Wednesday morning that she had no idea her husband and sons were growing marijuana in the workshop area on the first floor of their home until the police raided the operation nearly two years ago. She told jurors she learned from her elder son the night police arrived with a search warrant that her husband and sons had been growing marijuana in what she had believed was a first-floor workshop.

She was arrested Nov. 15, 2011, along with her husband, James F. Ford, 58, of Monroe, and their sons, James T. Ford, 36, of Monroe and Paul Ford, 33, of Swanville. They were indicted a year ago on drug and weapons charges by a federal grand jury.

Darlene Ford pleaded not guilty last year to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place, and aiding and abetting a felon in possession of a firearm.

The prosecution has alleged that the family moved from Massachusetts to Monroe to set up the Waldo County operation. The family was suspected of harvesting about 20 pounds of marijuana every three months and shipping it to Massachusetts, according to a previously published report.

Darlene Ford and James F. Ford remain free on $10,000 and $20,000 unsecured bail, respectively. He is scheduled to be tried in November on gun and drug charges.

The couple’s sons have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the grow operation. James T. Ford is serving a five-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ray Brook, N.Y. Paul Ford is being held without bail at the Somerset County Jail while awaiting sentencing. A date has not been set.

If retried and convicted, Darlene Ford faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the charge of maintaining a drug-involved place, and up to 10 years each on the drug conspiracy and gun charges. Maximum fines on the convictions range from $250,000 on the gun charge to $8 million on the conspiracy charge.

If Darlene Ford and James F. Ford are convicted, they would forfeit their Monroe property to the government.

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