Courts & Crime

Grand jury: Town allowed medical marijuana farm for money

By the time federal prosecutors warned Isleton, Calif., officials that a planned medical marijuana farm there was illegal, the project's workers already had quietly brought in more than 1,000 marijuana plants, according to a Sacramento County grand jury report issued Monday.

The warning in May from U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner had an immediate impact: A worker from Delta Allied Growers pulled the plants out of three vacant homes on the site and buried them 10 to 15 feet underground, and the project was abandoned, the report found.

The 12-page report is the product of a grand jury probe that began in April and concludes that Isleton officials were blinded by an offer of $25,000 in monthly payments from the growers.

"The city allowed the community to be pushed into a project that is perched on the blurry edge of marijuana law without properly questioning the situation," a cover letter to the report from grand jury foreman Donald Prange Jr. reads. "It did so, not because of any desire to test the limits of the law, but because of the promise of money and jobs."

The report questions the actions of City Manager Bruce Pope and Police Chief Rick Sullivan, whose department was promised a sophisticated security system for the town by the growers.

"Neither one seemed to worry about the legal status of the project under federal law," the report states.

It also singles out City Attorney Dave Larsen, who was paid by the marijuana growers $100 an hour over his city-paid rate to "help expedite the procedural aspects of the application" for the farm.

That arrangement "suggests an improper financial interest in the project," the report states.

Pope said Monday that city officials did nothing wrong, and that they were unfairly targeted by District Attorney Jan Scully.

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