FRESNO, CA— United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced that Mark McGrath, 50, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess marijuana with intent to distribute it.
According to court documents, McGrath and co-defendants Dustin York, 33, Joseph Taylor, 51, and Jeremy Dunn, 19, all of Thousand Oaks, were found by drug agents in a light-industrial warehouse in southeast Bakersfield that housed a sophisticated marijuana cultivation operation. The agents seized 1,161 marijuana plants valued at approximately $4.6 million and approximately 54.8 pounds of processed marijuana valued at about $219,200. The marijuana was grown under the guise of being medicinal.
As a result of their investigation, drug agents executed additional search warrants in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, where a fifth defendant, Joseph Nolan, 56, of Oak Park, was arrested and charged with the drug conspiracy.
McGrath is scheduled for sentencing January 23, 2012 before United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. He faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and maximum of life in prison, along with a fine of up to $4 million. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Nolan, York, Taylor, and Dunn face the same penalties if convicted. The charges against them are only allegations and they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the product of an investigation conducted by the DEA, Bakersfield Police Department, and Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.