FOUR MEMBERS OF MARIJUANA GROWING CONSPIRACY SENTENCED TO PRISON
Lead Defendant Gets 7+ Years in Prison for Masterminding Multiple Marijuana Grows
JERRY R. BERKEY, 36, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 90 months in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Manufacture Marijuana. Three other conspirators were also sentenced today. ROBERT MANNING, 44, of Snohomish, Washington was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release. BRAD M. JAGER, 33, of Marysville, Washington was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of supervised release. And QUENTIN CANNON, 37, of Edmonds, Washington, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release. At BERKEY’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman told him, “Your greed and your attitude towards the laws of the U.S. has wreaked havoc.... Many of the people you drew into your web you manipulated - most had addictions or were down on their luck.... You haven’t earned a decent living legally in years. What did you tell your kids when you came home ‘Daddy’s had a tough day at the grow?’”
According to records filed in the case, over the last five years BERKEY organized various marijuana grows with the other coconspirators, paying for the plants and equipment, paying the rent at various grow houses, and distributing the marijuana to buyers. BERKEY admits 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 cared for and harvested the plants. BERKEY took all of the marijuana, and completely controlled all sale of 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. In 2006, BERKEY helped a co-conspirator install a grow on Beverly Boulevard in Everett. ROBERT S. MANNING is one of the conspirators who lived there rent-free in exchange for his agreement to grow and harvest marijuana plants.
In 2006, BERKEY set up a marijuana grow on 44th Avenue W., Lynnwood, Washington. BERKEY agreed to supply the plants and equipment while QUENTIN J. CANNON and others tended the plants. CANNON was the only one of the co-conspirators who BERKEY agreed could sell the harvested marijuana, primarily because CANNON had been selling marijuana for years and developed a stable and extensive network of buyers. This grow had nearly 1,000 plants when it was raided, and when harvested every 20 days brought in between $7,000 and $9,000 of profit for each of the three individuals associated with growing and harvesting marijuana there. In 2008, BERKEY set up yet another marijuana grow with JAGER, this one at 141st Street SW in Edmonds, Washington, which BERKEY used as a staging ground for raising young marijuana plants that he would redistribute to his various grow houses. At this grow house JAGER kept a shotgun. The presence of a firearm resulted in a mandatory minimum five year sentence for JAGER.
Assistant United States Attorney Aravind Swaminathan asked for the longest sentence for BERKEY noting that he was the organizer of the ring who worked to minimize the risks to himself by recruiting friends in difficult financial circumstances, and having them put utilities for the homes in their names. As Mr. Swaminathan wrote to the court, “Over a five-year period of time, Berkey cultivated thousands of marijuana plants in residential homes throughout the district, harvested and sold hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and made hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally, which he used to support a lavish lifestyle filled with fast motorcycles and easy living. But Mr. Berkey did not just participate in the conspiracy. He was its leader, organizer, and mastermind. He recruited and directed at least seven men – now all convicted felons – including Jager, the godfather of his children.”
BERKEY was arrested October 10, 2008, and was indicted by the grand jury on October 23, 2008. He pleaded guilty April 6, 2009.
Earlier this year Judge Pechman sentenced the other co-conspirators. Anthony E. Stein was sentenced to 37 months in prison, Michael S. Orien was sentenced to 27 months in prison, Ryan Roy and Eric W. Hatfield were sentenced to a year and a day in prison, and Kurt Blanchard was sentenced to six months in prison.
At many of the sentencing hearings Judge Pechman noted that “it has been my experience that people who get involved with marijuana use at a very young age get frozen in time. They go through life in a haze.” Judge Pechman noted that QUENTIN CANNON had been a skillful marijuana grower saying, “I want you to feed the world, I don’t want you to distribute drugs to high schoolers... you need to do prison time because of the amount of pollution you spread in the community.” At the prosecutors recommendation, Judge Pechman urged the Bureau of Prisons to enroll many of the defendants in an intensive drug treatment program.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET).
The case was 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.