Man pleads guilty for Berkeley pot operation

February 5, 2008 3:03:20 PM PST
Joshua Hedlund, 31, has pleaded guilty to using a Berkeley warehouse for manufacturing marijuana and laundering the proceeds of the illegal operation, according to U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello. Hedlund pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge D. Lowell Jensen on May 16. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, in pleading guilty, Hedlund admitted that between the late spring and early summer of 2003 through March 2006, he knowingly allowed others to grow marijuana at a warehouse located at 807 and 809 Allston Way in Berkeley. Hedlund agreed that prosecutors would be able to prove that 2,700 plants were grown at this address and admitted to using the proceeds of the marijuana grown at the warehouse to pay his mortgage on the warehouse. Hedlund was arrested during a March 15, 2006, raid at the Allston Way warehouse, which netted 5,800 marijuana plants, a dozen weapons and $220,000 in cash. As part of the plea agreement, Hedlund agreed to forfeit more than $1 million in proceeds from the Berkeley grow and money he received from others for the purchase of properties in Humboldt, Marin, Mendocino, and Trinity counties. Hedlund also agreed to forfeit his right to more than 7,000 acres in Humboldt and Trinity counties that he purchased from the Eel River Saw Mill in the name of Vilica LLC. In addition, Hedlund agreed that federal, state, and local law enforcement and code enforcement officials may, at any time, conduct warrantless searches of the more than 5,000 acres he controls throughout Humboldt and Mendocino counties in the name of Schmook Ranch LLC. The U.S. Attorney's Office says Hedlund's guilty plea is the result of a two-year investigation by the Berkeley Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation unit. Berkeley police began investigating the Allston Way grow in early 2006. Authorities said surveillance of that location led to the arrest of six other individuals, all of whom have pleaded guilty to charges related to the cultivation of marijuana at the Berkeley warehouse. Hedlund could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison and fined up to $500,000 for using a warehouse to grow marijuana plus an equal sentence for money laundering.

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