Highlands Ranch Man Arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute Over 100 Marijuana Plants
FEB 16 -- DENVER – Chris Bartkowicz, age 36, of Highlands Ranch, was charged today by Criminal Complaint for possession with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense 224 marijuana plants, U.S. Attorney David Gaouette and DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sweetin announced today. Bartkowicz was arrested without incident on Friday, February 12, 2010. He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Denver before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.
According to a DEA affidavit, on February 12, 2010, DEA agents read an article on the internet that referred to an individual who was operating a marijuana cultivation operation. The reporter who wrote the article interviewed Chris Bartkowicz, who stated he was operating a large marijuana cultivation operation in the basement of his $637,000 Highlands Ranch home. Bartkowicz stated that his marijuana cultivation included a jungle of electrical wires and water hoses from room to room. According to the story Bartkowicz provided an electrical bill to the journalist that showed he owed $3,694.92 for the last two months of service.
Also on February 12, 2010, law enforcement contacted Bartkowicz and asked for his consent to search the residence. He signed a consent to search form. He was also read his Miranda warnings. Bartkowicz also signed an “Advice of Rights” form. During a search of the residence agents and officers were presented twelve marijuana care-giver certificates. Agents and officers also confiscated approximately 224 marijuana plants (approximate 119 in various stages with root systems) and approximately 105 “clones” or “starter” plants.
United States Attorney David Gaouette pointed out that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is in full compliance of a Department of Justice memorandum issued on October 19, 2009 by Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden. Specifically, according to the memo, medicinal marijuana growers’ actions must be in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws. Bartkowicz was not in compliance with state law. In this case, the defendant possessed amounts of marijuana in excess of the amount allowed by the state (3 full grown plants and 3 fledgling plants).
“In this instance the defendant had in his possession more plants than state law allows,” said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to focus on large scale marijuana traffickers.”
“The DEA continues to focus its resources on the investigation of major drug trafficking organizations that profit significantly from the cultivation and sale of marijuana and other illegal drugs,” said Jeffrey Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Denver DEA.
Bartkowicz is charged with possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, and dispense 224 marijuana plants. If convicted, the defendant faces not less than 5 and not more than 40 years in federal prison, as well as a $2,000,000 fine.
A Criminal Complaint is a probable cause charging document. Anyone accused of committing a federal felony crime has a Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Phillips.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and a defendant has the right to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.