FRESNO, CA — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced that Joseph Taylor, 51, and Dustin York, 33, both of Thousand Oaks, pleaded guilty today to drug charges filed in connection with a large marijuana grow in a Bakersfield warehouse.
According to court documents and proceedings, Taylor, York, and co-defendants Jeremy Dunn, 19, of Thousand Oaks, and Mark McGrath, 55, of Bakersfield, were found by drug agents during the execution of a search warrant in a warehouse in southeast Bakersfield that housed a sophisticated indoor marijuana cultivation operation. The agents seized approximately 1,161 marijuana plants valued at $4.6 million, and 54.8 pounds of processed marijuana valued at $219,200. The marijuana was grown under the guise of being medicinal. York pleaded guilty to a marijuana conspiracy, and Taylor pleaded guilty to using a place to cultivate marijuana.
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.
Taylor and York are scheduled for sentencing on January 23, 2012. Last month, McGrath also entered a guilty plea to the conspiracy. York and McGrath each face a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and maximum term of life in prison and a $4 million fine. Taylor faces a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $500,000 fine. Their actual sentences 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 and Dunn have entered not guilty pleas and are next scheduled to appear in federal court in Fresno on January 23, 2012. 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 by the DEA, the Bakersfield Police Department, and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.