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Nevada County Man Forfeits More Than $2.4 Million Worth of Property and is Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

JAN 23 (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Charles Miller Hilkey Jr., 58, of the Nevada City area, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton in connection with the cultivation of marijuana and structuring cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Judge Karlton sentenced Hilkey to four years and one month in prison. He ordered Hilkey to forfeit to the United States 25 different pieces of property in Oregon and California worth more than $2.4 million. He was taken into custody following the hearing. Hilkey pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on February 21, 2012.

According to court documents, Hilkey and others were involved in a four-year conspiracy to cultivate and sell marijuana. Between 2006 and 2009, Hilkey structured more than $850,000 in cash deposits with the intent of evading reporting requirements. He admitted that the funds he structured were either proceeds of marijuana cultivation or were intended to promote marijuana cultivation.

By 2009, Hilkey was the organizer of a well-concealed and well-funded marijuana operation. He had several marijuana grow sites under his control, he used straw owners to separate himself from a number of those grow sites, and he regularly used underlings to sell his marijuana, bringing in tens-of-thousands of dollars with each sale.

In September 2009, investigators seized evidence of more than 200 marijuana plants, several pounds of processed marijuana, marijuana growing equipment, a firearm, ammunition, and more than $143,000 in cash on properties controlled by Hilkey.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, and the California Department of Justice. Assistant United States Attorney Michael M. Beckwith is prosecuting the case.

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