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Businessman Sentenced for Bakersfield Drug Operation

JUN 22 (FRESNO, Calif.) –— Joseph Nolan, 59, a Malibu businessman and Ventura County resident, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana cultivated at a warehouse that he owned in Bakersfield.

According to the plea agreement and other court documents, Nolan set up a sophisticated indoor marijuana cultivation operation in a light industrial area in Bakersfield using K&N Manufacturing, his stone cutting business, as a front.  Nolan used the accounts of another business, Cross Creek Building Center in Malibu, to pay the growers and cover the costs of electricity, supplies, and equipment.  The Bakersfield marijuana operation supplied marijuana to the Blue Banana, a marijuana storefront and cultivation operation in Northridge that was shut down by the City of Los Angeles for failure to comply with local law.  The Bakersfield marijuana operation was disrupted when law enforcement officers obtained and executed a search warrant there.  During the search, officers seized 1,161 marijuana plants and 55 pounds of processed marijuana valued at over $4.8 million, along with thousands of dollars of marijuana cultivation equipment.  In sentencing Nolan, Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii ordered the forfeiture of over 300 pieces of equipment used for the indoor cultivation of marijuana.

Nolan was the last of six defendants to be sentenced in connection with the marijuana operation.  Mark Jeff Zeldes, 53, of Broomfield, Colorado, was sentenced last month to three years and eight months in prison for his involvement in the drug conspiracy.  Joseph Taylor, 55, of Thousand Oaks, California, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison.  Mark McGrath, 53, of Bakersfield, was sentenced to two years and two months in prison.  Dustin York, 37, of Newbury, California, was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison.  Jeremy Dunn, 22, of Thousand Oaks, was sentenced to one year and three months in prison.

The case was the product of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bakersfield Police Department, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, and the Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the case.


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