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Broker in Oregon-Indiana illicit pot ring pleads guilty

A Medford man will have to resolve his marijuana charges in Jackson County Circuit Court before he can sue narcotics officers a judge ruled Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Medford.

A man has admitted to his role in a multi-state illicit marijuana ring that reportedly involved Southern Oregon pot regularly delivered across the country — and resulted in the forfeiture of more than $1.6 million cash.

John A. Magliana, III, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Medford to a felony charge of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, admitting that he managed an unlicensed Selma marijuana grow between September 2018 and July 2020, according to a plea petition signed by Magliana.

Further, Magliana admitted that in July of last year that he drove from Los Angeles to the Rogue Valley with 9,838 one-gram THC vape cartridges.

The nearly 10 kilograms of THC concentrate carried a street value of roughly $80,000, according to an affidavit filed by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations agent.

Leading up to Magliana’s arrest were multiple traffic stops and property raids between Southern Oregon and northern Indiana that ultimately pointed to Magliana, also known as “Cutty” and Lowell Kortas of Mishawaka, Indiana, known by dealers and distributors under the names “Casper,” “Reckless” and “London K.”

“Both Kortas and Magliana used many different individuals to transport the marijuana and money, and often only sent half the money at one time for fear of losing it from a law enforcement traffic stop,” the affidavit states.

The first such stop was May 28, 2018, on Interstate 84, when an Oregon State Police trooper stopped an Indiana woman near the Dalles who had $129,000 cash hidden in the vehicle’s spare tire.

A search of her cellphone showed her in “constant communication” with Kortas, who was listed as “London K.”

On July 19, 2019, OSP troopers and federal investigators found $409,280 during a traffic stop of two Indiana men traveling in a motorhome outside Lakeview on Highway 140. Investigators say that the cash was stored vacuum-sealed bags and kept inside a large black Pelican case and an “LED light box.”

The men reportedly told investigators that he was supposed to be paid $40,000 for delivering the money to Southern Oregon, and had been paid about $30,000 for two prior deliveries. The men used burner cellphones belonging to Magliana.

On Sept. 12, 2018, OSP and Homeland Security Investigations searched a grow operation in the 600 block of Deer Creek Road in Selma. On the property, they found 45 “large marijuana plants” and a “large safe owned by Magliana that contained approximately $1,674,000 in U.S. currency.”

In addition to the plants and seven-figure sum, Magliana admitted to owning 31 pounds of the marijuana extract butane honey oil, 7.7 pounds of processed marijuana, 10 grams of cocaine and 21 firearms, according to the plea agreement.

The listed owner of the Selma property told investigators in June 2019 that Magliana orchestrated shipments of marijuana, and brokered large scale black market grows for other growers.

By July 15, 2020, Homeland Security Medford agents — working with the South Bend, Indiana DEA and Indiana State Troopers — served a search warrant on Kortas’ Mishawaka, Indiana, home.

Investigators found 246 pounds of marijuana flower, more than 2 pounds of cannabis resin, nearly 24 pounds of edibles, half a pound of psilocybin mushrooms, 414 marijuana vape cartridges and $37,041 cash.

Federal investigators also seized a Ford F-250 pickup, a Ford F-350 pickup and a Yamaha Kodiak 700 quad, which they allege were purchased with drug proceeds.

Later that morning, Kortas allegedly made admissions to being in business with Magliana since 2015, and paying Magliana six-figure sums on a monthly basis in exchange for roughly 40 pounds of marijuana per month and 2,000 marijuana extract vape cartridges to sell in Indiana.

"Kortas also admitted that prior to the seizure of $1,674,047 ... he would send Magliana $200,000 in U.S. currency approximately every five to six weeks to pay for the marijuana Magliana sent him,“ the affidavit states.

Kortas has yet to be charged with a crime in the case, according to searches in U.S. District Courts in Oregon, and northern and southern courts in Indiana.

Magliana faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $100,000 fine and three years of supervised release. As terms of the plea agreement, however, federal prosecutors and Magliana’s defense lawyer will recommend a sentence of one year and one day.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.