LEADER OF MARIJUANA GROWING CONSPIRACY PLEADS GUILTY IN FEDERAL COURT
Defendant Ran Marijuana Grows at Five Snohomish County Residences
JERRY R. BERKEY, 36, of Seattle, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. As part of his plea agreement BERKEY and the government agree to recommend a sentence of between 87 and 108 months in prison when BERKEY is sentenced on July 10, 2009, by U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman.
According to the plea agreement, over the last five years BERKEY organized various marijuana grows with other co-conspirators, paying for the plants and equipment, paying the rent at various grow houses, and distributing the marijuana to buyers. BERKEY admitted he was involved with growing more than 4,000 plants at five different locations.
The first grow charged in the case was installed at a home BERKEY rented on 203rd Place SW in Lynnwood, Washington. In 2003, BERKEY recruited Brad M. Jager to tend the marijuana crop. In exchange for free rent, and a split of the profits, Jager took care of the plants. BERKEY was in charge of selling the marijuana. Over five years BERKEY set up similar arrangements with six other co-defendants. In May 2004, BERKEY installed a grow on Jefferson Way in Lynnwood and conspired with Michael S. Orien to tend the grow. In 2006, BERKEY helped Orien purchase his own property on Beverly Boulevard in Everett and installed a marijuana grow there. BERKEY paid rent to Orien and allowed co-defendants Eric W. Hatfield, Kurt M. Blanchard, and Robert S. Manning to live there rent-free in exchange for their agreement to grow marijuana plants.
In 2006, BERKEY set up a marijuana grow with two other men on 44th Avenue W., Lynnwood, Washington. BERKEY agreed to supply the plants and equipment while Quentin J. Cannon and Anthony E. Stein tended the plants. Cannon and BERKEY sold the harvested marijuana. This grow had nearly 1,000 plants, and when harvested every 30 days, brought in $3000 to $9,000. In 2008, BERKEY set up another marijuana grow with Jager, this one at 141st Street SW in Edmonds, Washington. In general, each of the grows contained hundreds of marijuana plants and brought in about $3,000 every thirty days.
BERKEY was arrested October 10, 2008, and was indicted by the grand jury on October 23, 2008.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Seattle Police Department, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, and the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Aravind Swaminathan.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.