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Bakersfield Marijuana Business Owner Pleads Guilty

DEC 17 (FRESNO, Calif.) — David Chavez Sr., 53, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute marijuana, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, the Bakersfield Police Department, and the Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen A. Servatius is prosecuting the case.

According to court documents, David Chavez Sr. was the treasurer of Nature’s Medicinal, a marijuana dispensary. He was also the owner of the property where the business operated. According to the indictment, between September 2004 and February 2006, the business earned $16 million in gross sales. His son, David Chavez Jr., owned and operated Nature’s Medicinal.

Court records show that law enforcement executed search and seizure warrants on the business and personal residences of the father and son on May 1, 2007. When the defendants reopened the dispensary, additional search and seizure warrants were executed 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.

Chavez Sr. is scheduled to be sentenced on March 18, 2013 by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. He faces a mandatory five-year term in prison and a $2 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. Chavez Jr. has pleaded guilty and sentencing is set for January 28, 2013

Six co-defendants have been sentenced for the conspiracy. Timothy Glenn Doolittle, 42, of Bakersfield, 30 months in prison; Jennifer Diane Brown, 37, of Bakersfield, a year in prison; John Shanks, 20 months in prison; Israel Cavazos, 38, three and a half years in prison; John Wyatt, 31, 30 months in prison; and Jonathan Michael Chapman, 32, three years and one month in prison.

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