Los Angeles Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nathan Hoffman, 56, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty today to manufacturing marijuana as part of a larger conspiracy to distribute marijuana throughout California, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
As part of his plea agreement, Hoffman agreed to give up his license to practice law in the State of California and not contest any disbarment proceedings instituted by the State Bar of California.
According to court documents, Hoffman, a Los Angeles attorney with offices on Wilshire Boulevard, conspired with Yan Ebyam, Hung Nguyen, and others to develop two industrial-sized marijuana cultivation sites in Sutter County and Sacramento. Hoffman created legal entities designed to lend legitimacy to the marijuana cultivation and distribution, but, as part of the plea agreement, Hoffman admitted that he and his co-conspirators sought to make profits from the illegal distribution of large amounts of marijuana. Much of the marijuana grown in Northern California from this conspiracy was distributed by Nguyen. Nguyen, who entered a guilty plea last week, operated two Southern California marijuana stores, the Canna Clinic of Garden Grove and the South Bay Canna Clinic in Torrance.
This case is part of investigations into industrial-scale marijuana cultivation conspiracies operating within the Eastern District of California. A total of 12 defendants were indicted for crimes relating to their marijuana cultivation in this case and in two related cases (United States v. Yan Ebyam et al. 2:11-cr-275-JAM and 2:11-cr-276-JAM). All defendants have now pleaded guilty to participation in the conspiracies, and most have been sentenced to prison.
According to court documents, on June 21, 2011, federal and state agents executed seven federal search warrants in Sacramento, Sutter, and Tehama Counties. Two of these warrants were executed at the sites of large, commercial greenhouses located at the Jopson Ranch in Rio Oso and at the Cal-Nevada Wholesale Florist in Sacramento. Law enforcement officers seized over 5,000 marijuana plants in all stages of growth from these two locations: approximately 2,168 plants at Jopson Ranch and approximately 3,305 plants at Cal-Nevada Florist. Two leaders arrested at the grow sites, Yan Ebyam and Aimee Sisco, admitted their involvement in the marijuana cultivation business.
Sentencing for Hoffman is set for April 18, 2017, before U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez. Hoffman faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
These three cases are the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. It was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Hitt and Todd A. Pickles are prosecuting the cases.