Passenger in Medford pot plane crash to be sentenced
Citing mitigating factors that include time served in Idaho, federal prosecutors will seek a “low end” prison sentence for a man who has pleaded guilty to trafficking dealer amounts of pot extract before an aircraft in which he was a passenger crashed in an east Medford neighborhood in 2019.
Zachary Wayne Moore, 37, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Eugene for his admitted role possessing hash oil with intent to distribute the drug. The federal case out of Oregon is among two drug investigations sparked after a 1947 Beech 35 Bonanza hit a tree in the 2300 block of Whittle Avenue the afternoon of June 8, 2019.
Moore reportedly admitted to police after the crash that he and co-suspect Mathew William Thompson — the plane’s pilot — paid around $6,000 for roughly 4.3 pounds of the concentrated marijuana extract known as butane honey oil, according to a sentencing brief filed Friday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marco Boccato.
An earlier news story about the crash said 5.66 pounds of BHO was seized. Boccato described the amount as the “gross weight,” which included the drug’s packaging.
The aircraft had just refueled in Medford when an issue with the fuel pump arose after takeoff. Boccato stated in the sentencing brief that the Thompson’s aircraft “was not in a condition to fly.”
“Moore is lucky he did not die, his co-defendant did not or an innocent civilian did not die,” Boccato wrote.
Moore and Thompson walked away from the crash on a sunny Saturday afternoon with minor injuries. Criminal charges in Oregon and Idaho followed soon after.
“After the crash, witnesses observed both defendants going back and forth to the plane to remove belongings,” Boccato wrote. “This occurred despite the injuries to both defendants and the danger posed from the damaged aircraft.”
One witness captured them on video returning to the plane, according to a previous news report.
Within days of the crash, Boise, Idaho police issued a search warrant at the home Thompson shared with Moore. Inside, police reportedly found equipment used to manufacture BHO, a handgun and “psilocybin mushrooms in varying stages of growth,” according to Boccato.
In October 2019, Moore pleaded guilty in Ada County District Court to a felony charge of possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver stemming from the Boise police raid, Idaho court records show. He served more than 15 months in Idaho and is now on parole and working in construction in Boise.
The crime carries a recommended sentence of between 24 and 30 months, according to court documents filed Friday ahead of sentencing. Boccato will seek the “low end” of the range, while Moore’s defense lawyer, Justin Rosas of Medford, will seek probation.
Rosas argues that his client has successfully completed drug treatment and vocational classes, has found a good-paying job in Boise and “has shown the dedication necessary to build a sustainable life away from marijuana.”
“Losing many of his teeth and fearing he would die in an accident in his friend’s plane — and realizing his life was in danger for minor compensation given his role — Mr. Moore reflected deeply over the nearly 16 months he was in custody,” Rosas wrote.
“He was not the pilot, and it was not his plane,” Boccato wrote. “It was Thompson’s plane, he was the pilot, and he (Thompson) appears to be the instigator.
Thompson is scheduled to stand trial in U.S. District Court in Medford beginning Dec. 21 on a similar federal marijuana charge along with an added count of operating an unregistered aircraft, federal court records show.
Idaho court records show that Thompson will stand trial in February surrounding the 2019 drug raid at his home.
Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.