FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2007
Contact: Casey McEnry
Oakland Landlord Sentenced for Allowing
Marijuana to be Grown on Multiple Commercial Properties
MAY 21 -- OAKLAND, CA – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña and United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that Thomas Grossi, Sr., age 62, of Lafayette, California, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit the sum of approximately $396,000 as a result of Grossi being convicted of allowing others to grow marijuana on properties he controlled. This conviction and sentence is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Highway Patrol.
“Providing drug traffickers with a safe harbor to grow marijuana is a good way to ensure DEA pays you and your tenants an unwelcome visit. As a result of Mr. Grossi's ability to look the other way, he will now have a new landlord of his own to answer to - and his first name is Warden,” stated Special Agent in Charge Peña.
In January 2006, after a three-week trial, a federal jury convicted Mr. Grossi of managing and controlling the commercial property located at 2638 Market Street in Oakland and for renting and making that property available to another person for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(2). The jury’s verdict also included a finding that the defendant used the Market Street property in the commission of that offense. The jury deadlocked, however, on a second felony count (and a forfeiture count) alleging that Mr. Grossi allowed others to use a second commercial property in Oakland, located at 2635 East 11th Street, for the purpose of manufacturing marijuana.
Subsequent to the conclusion of his jury trial, on February 24, 2006, Mr. Grossi pled guilty to the charge on which the jury was deadlocked at trial. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Grossi admitted that in regard to the property located at 2635 East 11th Street in Oakland, for the period between approximately January 2003 and June 30, 2004, he managed and controlled this property as the owner. Mr. Grossi admitted that he allowed others to cultivate marijuana on this property during that period. Mr. Grossi acknowledged that he knew that cultivation of marijuana was against federal law. Mr. Grossi further admitted in the plea agreement that in regard to another commercial property that he owns in Oakland, 1720–1722 Telegraph Avenue (1725 Broadway), he likewise managed and controlled this property during the period between December 2001 and June 30, 2004. During this period, the property was in the name of the Oakland Coin Exchange, Inc. Mr. Grossi was the owner and agent of this corporation. Mr. Grossi admitted that he allowed other persons to cultivate marijuana on this property.
During the trial, evidence showed that during 2004, Mr. Grossi owned three commercial properties in Oakland and there was marijuana growing on all three properties at the same time. It was not until June 30, 2004, that the California Highway Patrol discovered marijuana growing inside Mr. Grossi’s warehouse at the Market Street property. With the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration, a total of 2,379 marijuana plants were seized inside the warehouse. Workers inside the warehouse were arrested on that date, and later investigation determined that Mr. Grossi was a participant in the marijuana cultivation at that property. The discovery of the marijuana grow at the Market Street property led to the discovery of the two additional Oakland properties on which marijuana was also cultivated. Mr. Grossi was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 10, 2005.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen. Judge Jensen also sentenced the defendant to a 3-year period of supervised release. The Court did not impose a fine in view of the amount of the criminal forfeiture ordered by the Court. The defendant was ordered to self-surrender on July 18, 2007 to begin serving his sentence.
George L. Bevan, Jr., is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Kathryn Glynn.