Postal Carrier Arrested for Distributing Marijuana on His Mail Route
MAR 5 -- Portland, Ore. – Ronald “Rick” Richard Berkan, Jr., 46, was arrested today at his home in Vernonia, Oregon by federal and state officers following his indictment by a federal grand jury on two counts of Distributing Marijuana to an Underage Individual in violation of federal statutes. These charges stem from Berkan’s sale of pound quantities of marijuana, occasionally while operating his postal truck in the Cedar Mill area of Washington County, over a period of years, to a buyer who was between 16 and 19 years during that time frame. Under federal statute, Title 21 of the United States Code, Section 859, it is a felony to distribute a controlled substance to a person under the age of 21 years. The maximum penalty on each count is ten years imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year on each count. In addition to arresting Berkan, a total of three search warrants were executed on residences: two in the Cedar Mill area, and a third at Berkan’s residence near Vernonia in Columbia County. An indoor marijuana growing operation and approximately five (5) pounds of marijuana was seized at his home. The investigation remains ongoing.
Berkan’s arrest came after a near year-long investigation begun by the U.S. Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General (OIG)/ Office of Investigations, while partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The investigation was later joined by the Washington County Interagency Narcotics Team (WIN) and the Lake Oswego Police Department.
Berkan was arraigned in federal court today and was temporarily released on conditions. He returns to court next Tuesday, March 6, 2007, at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart at the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland to review his release conditions. Trial is scheduled for May 1, 2007.
The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.
Points of Contact:
U.S. Attorney’s Office: John F. Deits, Assistant U.S. Attorney, (503) 727-1000
Office of Inspector General: John D. Masters, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, (971) 563-3195
Drug Enforcement Administration: Bernie Hobson, Public Information Officer, (206) 553-2295