FRESNO, CA — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced that John Richard Shanks, 62, of Bakersfield, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to 20 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute marijuana. Shanks pleaded guilty on February 8, 2010.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, the Bakersfield Police Department, the Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Task Force, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen A. Servatius is prosecuting the case.
According to court records, Shanks worked as an armed security guard for Nature’s Medicinal, a business engaged almost exclusively in distributing marijuana. Shanks was indicted along with other defendants, including the company’s owner and CEO David Chavez Jr. and the treasurer David Chavez Sr. According to the indictment, between September 2004 and February 2006, the business had $16.2 million in gross sales.
Court records show that law enforcement executed search and seizure warrants on the business and personal residences of the Chavez Sr. And Chavez Jr. on May 1, 2007 and again on July 16, 2007, resulting in the seizure of more than 200 pounds of marijuana and marijuana laced food products, more than $57,000 in cash, and two firearms. They are awaiting trial on charges that they conducted a continuing criminal enterprise and conspired to distribute marijuana. If convicted, Chavez Sr. and Chavez Jr. each face a mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Two other co-defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute marijuana and have been sentenced: Timothy Glenn Doolittle, 42, of Bakersfield, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and five years of supervised release, and Jennifer Diane Brown, 37, of Bakersfield, was sentenced to one year in prison and three years of supervised release.
An additional three co-defendants have entered pleas of guilty to conspiring to distribute marijuana and are awaiting sentencing: John Wayne Wyatt, 32, Israel Cavazos, 37, and Jonathan M. Chapman, 31, all of Bakersfield. Wyatt will be sentenced on April 25, 2011. Cavazos and Chapman are scheduled to be sentenced on May 9, 2011.