News and Press Releases

Cambria County Woman Conspired to Grow Marijuana Plants

May 9, 2013

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - A resident of Carrolltown, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to manufacture and possess marijuana plants, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Judy A. Bender, 49, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in the spring of 2011, Bender conspired to manufacture and possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 marijuana plants but less than 1,000 marijuana plants. In addition, evidence presented to the Court at the time of Bender's guilty plea reflected that she conspired with George M. Lowmaster and others to grow marijuana plants with the intent to facilitate and promote George M. Lowmaster's drug distribution organization.

Judge Gibson scheduled sentencing for Oct. 24, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $5,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Bender on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney John J. Valkovci, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

A joint task force, headed by the Laurel Highlands Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Bender. Other agencies participating on the task force include the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Pennsylvania State Police; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office; the Cambria County District Attorney's Office; the Carrolltown Police Department; the Patton Police Department; the Ebensburg Police Department; the Portage Police Department and the Paint Township Police Department.

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