Medford Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison on Marijuana Distribution Conviction
Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Used as a Cover to Grow Marijuana for Sale
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 28, 2013|
MEDFORD, OR—On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, Senior U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner sentenced Brian Wayne Simmons, 40, of Medford, Oregon, to 15 years in federal prison for conspiracy and manufacturing and distributing marijuana.
Simmons owned and operated Brian’s Green Thumb Farm on East Gregory Road in Central Point, Oregon, purporting to grow organic vegetables. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents executed a search warrant on Simmon’s farm in October 2011, seizing 456 large marijuana plants. Agents seized an additional 64 large marijuana plants at a second grow site on Dark Hollow Road in Medford. The plants ranged from approximately 5-8 feet tall and produced upwards of 10 pounds of marijuana per plant. Agents also seized thousands of pounds of harvested marijuana being processed at both locations (1,600 pounds dry weight). Simmons had previously registered over 20 persons as “growers” at his marijuana sites, creating the appearance that he was complying with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. In fact, evidence established that many of the growers were recruited in name only and took no part in the grow operation. Simmons also recruited persons to tend the marijuana plants for a percentage of the profit and paid others to trim the marijuana. The investigation revealed that Simmons had been growing and selling marijuana since at least 2009, with documented sales of over $740,000 for the 2009 and 2010 grow seasons. Based on the seized evidence, Simmons had roughly quadrupled the size of his operation by 2011.
Simmons was convicted by a 12-person jury after a trial in Medford, Oregon, in December 2012. A co-defendant, Michael Grantski, was acquitted. Another co-defendant, Michael Peru, pleaded guilty, and is pending sentencing.
“This case represents another gross abuse of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). Under state law, OMMP attempts to provide a mechanism to enable people who suffer from one of several enumerated medical conditions to obtain medicinal marijuana. Unfortunately, criminals like Mr. Simmons hide behind the façade of OMMP in order to sell their illicit product to drug users and drug dealers for profit,” stated U.S. Attorney Amanda S. Marshall. “My office will continue to indict others who violate both state and federal law by producing and selling large quantities of marijuana for profit. We will also take the assets that are used to facilitate the illegal activity and the resulting proceeds in order to take the profit out of this crime.”
This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Medford Police Department, Ashland Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and it was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas W. Fong.