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Colorado Resident Charged in California Marijuana Conspiracy

MAY 08 (FRESNO, Calif.) —Mark Jeff Zeldes, 52, of Broomfield, Colo., appeared in federal court today in Fresno to face charges contained in an indictment of cultivating and distributing marijuana.

According to court documents, between June 1, 2009 and March 9, 2010, Zeldes was responsible for a large-scale marijuana cultivation and distribution operation with multiple indoor grow locations in Bakersfield, Newbury Park, and Northridge, Calif. After being questioned by law enforcement agents in California, Zeldes relocated to Colorado where he continued to engage in marijuana cultivation and interstate distribution activities.

Following his arrest on April 8, 2014, Zeldes was brought before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Denver, who ordered him detained as a flight risk and danger to the community. Zeldes remains in custody and is next scheduled to appear in court in Fresno for a status conference on June 23, 2014.

If convicted, Zeldes faces a statutory penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

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