News Release
Date: December 10, 2008
Contact: Rich Isaacson
Number: (313) 234-4310

22 Michigan Residents Indicted in Huge Marijuana Indoor
Grow Investigation
-Mortgage Fraud and Money Laundering Charges also Leveled on
Drug Organization

DEC 10 -- (DETROIT) - Twenty-two individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan for their role in a long-term hydroponics marijuana grow operation and distribution case Acting United States Attorney Terrence Berg announced today. Mr. Berg was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Sheriff Michael Bouchard, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

The organization, led by Brian Osburn, has grown and distributed a hybrid strain of marijuana referred to as “Purps.” The indictment alleges that from 2002 to the present, 16 of the defendants participated in cultivating and distributing the marijuana in numerous grow houses across Southeast Michigan. Many of the residences used for the indoor grow operations were purchased with drug proceeds and by fraud because of the false documents provided in support of mortgage applications. In addition, eleven were indicted for money laundering, including laundering activities such as the purchase of assets, including grow houses, structured bank deposits, the use of money orders to legitimize income and the purchase of re-loadable financial transaction devices such as stored value cards.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Corso stated: “This investigation illustrates that, no matter how creative a drug trafficking organization may be, eventually law enforcement will catch up. This group thought that they were conducting their business safely behind the walls of quiet, suburban homes and business offices, but they were only kidding themselves. As drug trafficking organizations develop more complex methods of concealing their activities, the DEA and our law enforcement partners will work to seek them out and dismantle their operations. Thanks to the cooperation of our state and local law enforcement partners, especially the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, this is one “going out of business” story that is good for our community.

Acting United States Attorney Berg said, “This indictment signals my office's continuing commitment to fight large scale marijuana distribution networks like Osburn’s to prevent them from delivering illicit street drugs into our communities of Metro Detroit. The criminal asset forfeiture count in the indictment should let all drug dealers know that we are vigilant and unceasing in our efforts to destroy the drug trafficking trade by taking the profits of drug dealing away from dealers and to put money associated with the sale of illegal drugs into the hands of law enforcement.”

Sheriff Bouchard stated, “This was a huge, ongoing, sophisticated criminal enterprise, which was very lucrative for the indicted individuals. Whether it is marijuana, cocaine, heroin or any other illicit substance, it makes no difference to us. We are committed in our partnership with the DEA, and the US Attorney's Office, to bring these drug traffickers to justice and to putting their operations out of business."

Six of the defendants were indicted on mortgage fraud charges, and one individual, Phillip Hogan, was charged with identity theft based on his involvement in two fraudulent mortgage applications in which he used another person's identity to qualify for the loans. Osburn and two of his brothers are among the drug conspiracy defendants, and their mother, Kathleen Osburn, is indicted on money laundering and mortgage fraud charges. In addition to these criminal charges, there is a forfeiture count, including an $8.2 million money judgment, for which all of the defendants are responsible.

Conspiracy carries a penalty of not less than 10 years in prison, a $4,000,000 fine, or both; money laundering carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property, whichever is greater, or both; the penalty for mortgage fraud is not more than 30 years, a fine of not more than $1 million, or both.

The case was investigated by agents and task force officers of the DEA, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Roseville Police Department, Ferndale Police Department, Dearborn Police Department, Novi Police Department, Sterling Heights Police Department, West Bloomfield Police Department, Michigan State Police, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Troy Police Department, Farmington Hills Police Department, Warren Police Department and the St. Clair Shores Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Beck and Peter Ziedas.

Named in the indictment are:

Brian Osburn, 33 of Belleville
Jason Gross, 31 of Southfield
Jason Eric Osburn, 34 of Belleville
Trevor M. Osburn, 30 of Canton
Robert Sulo Tarki, 37 of Keego Harbor
Mark Kobus, 30 of Bloomfield
Sam Davis Kemerko, Jr., 30 of West Bloomfield
Michael James Sciacca, 38 of Pontiac
George Lee Thomas, 46 of Detroit
Darrick Dwayne Thomas, 28 of Detroit
Robert Dean Major II, 33 of Greenville
James Horn, 41 of Waterford
Kathleen Leonita Osburn, 58 of Canton
Alexander J. Marinello, 44 of Warren
Justin Sykes, 32 of Berkley
William Morse, 27 of Burt
James Laroche, 37 of Plymouth
Phillip Hogan, 35 of Southfield
David Aaron Friedman, 27 of Birmingham
David Marcum, 31 of Ypsilanti
Matthew McDonald, 30 of West Bloomfield Township
Andrew Davis, 23 of Orchard Lake


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