A former Jackson County developer will spend 18 months in federal prison for serving as the financial advisor to a large-scale operation that funneled excess medical marijuana into the black market.
Michael Reed Peru, 70, received a lesser sentence than his co-defendants because he worked with law enforcement to provide financial details on the inner workings of Brian's Green Thumb Farm, which produced thousands of pounds of excess marijuana that was sold illegally in other states.
Peru was ordered to spend 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess 100 or more marijuana plants, a federal prosecutor said.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents photographed 455 large marijuana plants growing at the Central Point site and raided the farm on Oct. 5, 2011. Agents seized the plants and found 2,000 pounds of semi-dry marijuana in a barn, the affidavit states. Afterward, agents dried the marijuana and found that it weighed 1,022 pounds, a federal court affidavit said.
The buds from these plants were drying when DEA agents raided the farms on Dark Hollow, East Gregory and Table Rock roads.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program records for the farm showed the site was permitted to serve 76 patients, allowing for 114 pounds, prosecutors said.
Along with Peru, Brian Wayne Simmons, Clifford Ruhland, Caleb Joseph Kulp and Scott Grantski were charged with manufacture, delivery and possession of marijuana.
"Peru managed the finances," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Fong.
According to Fong, the operation netted just over $700,000 for the 2009-10 growing season and was well on its way to producing more marijuana when it was raided in 2011.
"They had a pretty elaborate operation going," Fong said.
Peru testified in federal court against Simmons, explaining financial documents and bank statements collected by law enforcement.
Simmons, 40, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his part in running the illegal garden.
Peru made news about nine years ago when he attempted to build a golf course at the site of the Billings Ranch in north Ashland. The project, which also sought to use some public land along Bear Creek, failed and the investors, including Peru himself, lost large amounts of money.
The U.S. Attorney's Office recommended, and a federal judge agreed, that Peru receive a lesser sentence than his co-defendants because he agreed to testify against the other men in court.
"When folks provide truthful testimony, we will sometimes agree to recommend a lesser sentence," Fong said.
If Peru violates his post-prison supervision agreement, he will returned to prison for three years, according to his sentencing memorandum filed in federal court.
Ruhland and Kulp are awaiting sentencing in their respective cases, Fong said. Grantski was acquitted following a federal trail.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email email@example.com.