FEB 25 (FRESNO, Calif.) —Joseph Taylor, 53, of Thousand Oaks, and Dustin York, 35, of Newbury, were sentenced to prison today for their involvement in a conspiracy to cultivate marijuana in a warehouse on South Union Avenue in Bakersfield, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Taylor to three years and one month in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release that registration as drug offender and 20 hours of community service per week until employed. Judge Ishii sentenced York to one year and 10 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release that includes registration as a drug offender. In sentencing the defendants, Judge Ishii rejected Taylor’s request for leniency based on his ignorance of federal law. Judge Ishii also ordered the forfeiture of thousands of dollars of marijuana cultivation equipment.
According to court documents and proceedings, Taylor, York and their co-defendants Jeremy Dunn, 21, of Thousand Oaks, and Mark McGrath, 57, of Bakersfield, were found by law enforcement officers during the execution of a search warrant in a warehouse in southeast Bakersfield that housed a sophisticated indoor marijuana cultivation operation. Officers seized 1,161 marijuana plants.
This investigation led to six additional search warrants being executed in of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties where a fifth defendant, Joseph Nolan, 58, a Malibu business man, was arrested and charged with the drug conspiracy.
McGrath has pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing. Nolan and Dunn have entered not guilty pleas and are scheduled for a status conference on March 11, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe in Fresno. If convicted, they face a sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine. Any sentences would 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. The charges against Nolan and Dunn are only allegations and they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bakersfield Police Department, and Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.