Holden Man Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Conspiracy and Structuring
Bangor, Maine: United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced that Christopher Ruhlin, 49, of Holden, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and to structuring cash transactions to evade federal cash transaction reporting requirements.
According to court records, between October 2010 and August 2016, the defendant conspired with others to illegally grow marijuana at a facility in Frankfort, Maine and to distribute it at the Owl’s Club, in Bangor in violation of federal law, and under the cover of, but in violation of, Maine’s Medical Marijuana program. The defendant and others operated the Frankfort facility until 2013. Thereafter, others operated it. In May 2016, agents searched the Frankfort facility and seized marijuana in various stages of harvest and cultivation, together with paraphernalia and items used to manufacture and process marijuana. In August 2016, agents searched property owned by the defendant in downtown Bangor, including the Owl’s Club, and seized processed marijuana. At the time of the searches, the defendant was not registered as a medical marijuana caregiver with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the location of the Frankfort facility was not reported to DHHS as required.
Under federal law, financial institutions that receive more than $10,000 in cash from a customer are required to report the transaction to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Structuring occurs when a customer breaks up cash transactions into multiple increments of less than $10,000, to avoid these cash transaction reporting requirements. On May 28, 2013, the defendant structured cash deposits into his bank account in order to cause the bank not to file a currency transaction report.
The defendant faces up to 20 years in prison, between three years and life of supervised release, and a $1,000,000 fine for the drug conspiracy. He faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release for structuring. In a plea agreement, the defendant agreed to forfeit $115,000. The defendant will be sentenced after the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.