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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 20, 2015

Coloradan Sentenced For California Marijuana Conspiracy

FRESNO, Calif. —Mark Jeff Zeldes, 53, of Broomfield, Colorado, was sentenced today to three years and eight months in prison for a conspiracy in California to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Zeldes was also ordered to forfeit over 300 pieces of equipment used for the indoor cultivation of marijuana.

This sentence follows Zeldes’ guilty plea earlier this year. In sentencing Zeldes, Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii considered court documents which indicate that Zeldes was responsible for a large-scale marijuana cultivation and distribution operation with multiple indoor grow locations in Bakersfield, Newbury Park, and Northridge, California. Law enforcement officers seized 1,856 marijuana plants in connection with those operations.

Court records also indicate that, at the time of his arrest in Colorado, Zeldes had several locked and loaded firearms in his residence, as well as several rounds of ammunition, including an automatic weapon magazine capable of holding 100 rounds of ammunition. Following his arrest, Zeldes was brought before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Denver, who ordered him detained as a flight risk and danger to the community. In ordering his detention, the court cited to Zeldes’ ongoing involvement in marijuana cultivation and distribution activities, including a $9 million contract with private investors to operate a marijuana grow.

This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the case.

Docket #: 1:14-cr-077 AWI

Updated April 30, 2015