A Medford mixed-martial-arts trainer and three others have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell marijuana from nearly 200 plants grown under the guise of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and diverted to the black market, officials said.
Robert Dunham Hisamoto, the owner of Samurai Fighting Arts on North Riverside Avenue, entered his guilty plea Monday in U.S. District Court in Medford.
In addition, Charles Lester Reader and Madeline "Mandy" Lafern Reader, who worked with Hisamoto in the growing operation, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.
U.S. Attorney Doug Fong declined to comment on the plea agreement until the trio is sentenced.
Drug Administration Enforcement agents were tipped off to Hisamoto's marijuana gardens while conducting aerial surveillance in August and September 2011.
The agents spotted about 198 marijuana plants growing on a property in the 6500 block of Tolo Road in Central Point, according to federal court documents.
The property belonged to Hisamoto, as did another home in Elkander Street in Ashland.
Another DEA flyover in October 2011 revealed 70 marijuana plants, which meant that a large chunk of the crop had been harvested, officials said.
The DEA checked OMMP records and found the property was approved for 28 patients, allowing a maximum 168 mature plants on the property at one time, court records state.
However, Hisamoto's property on Elkander Street was not an authorized grow site for medical marijuana.
DEA agents searched the Tolo Road site in October and found 197 plots that were believed to have grown marijuana plants, according to court records. Many of the plots were empty because of the harvest.
Agents discovered several pounds of marijuana at the site and interviewed Charles and Mandy Reader at the scene. They told agents they worked at the garden and that Hisamoto was the listed caregiver, court records state.
A search of Hisamoto's Ashland home yielded more than 200 pounds of processed marijuana, according to the documents. Hisamoto is registered as a medical marijuana caregiver for 30 patients, which allows him to possess 45 pounds of marijuana at one time.
According to a federal affidavit, DEA agents then found several of the group's patients. Many of them said they never received the medical marijuana Hisamoto promised them. In these interviews, officials said, the patients said Hisamoto told them his gardens had been damaged by mold and that he also had been "ripped off" and could not provide them with marijuana.
The DEA found that Hisamoto was funneling the marijuana he was growing to the black market for profit.
Hisamoto was at one time active in the local mixed-martial-arts scene. He trains fighters at his gym and promotes fights throughout Southern Oregon.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email email@example.com.