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Los Angeles lawyer sentenced to 4 years in prison for role in wide-ranging marijuana conspiracies

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – Nathan Hoffman, 57, of Los Angeles, was sentenced today by United States District Judge John A. Mendez to four years in prison for conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-in-Charge John Martin announced.

As part of his plea agreement, Hoffman agreed to forfeit his license to practice law in California and was ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals in Los Angeles on December 7, 2017, to begin service of his sentence. 

According to court documents, Hoffman conspired with Yan Ebyam and others to develop two industrial-sized marijuana cultivation sites in Sutter County and Sacramento. As part of the plea agreement, Hoffman admitted that he and his co-conspirators sought to make profits from the illegal distribution of large amounts of marijuana. Much of the marijuana grown in Northern California from this conspiracy was distributed by Hung C. Nguyen. Nguyen, who pled guilty on January 10, 2017, operated two Southern California marijuana stores: the Canna Clinic of Garden Grove and the South Bay Canna Clinic in Torrance. Sentencing for Nguyen is currently set for September 7, 2017, before Judge Mendez. Ebyam pleaded guilty on July 1, 2014, and was sentenced by Judge Mendez to 72 months in prison on January 24, 2017. Two remaining co-defendants, Steve Marcus and Brook Murphy, both pleaded guilty and are set to be sentenced on November 28, 2017.

The cases began when federal and state agents executed seven federal search warrants in Sacramento, Sutter, and Tehama Counties on June 21, 2011. Two of these warrants were executed at the sites of large, commercial greenhouses located at the Jopson Ranch in Rio Oso and at the Cal-Nevada Wholesale Florist in Sacramento. Law enforcement officers seized over 5,000 marijuana plants in all stages of growth from these two locations: approximately 2,168 plants at Jopson Ranch and approximately 3,305 plants at Cal-Nevada Florist. Two leaders arrested at the grow sites, Ebyam and Aimee Sisco, admitted their involvement in the marijuana cultivation business. Subsequent investigation and search warrants uncovered the link to Hoffman, Nguyen, and others.
 
These cases are part of investigations into industrial-scale marijuana cultivation conspiracies operating within the Eastern District of California. A total of 16 defendants were charged in three separate indictments for crimes relating to marijuana cultivation (United States v. Hoffman et al., 2:15-cr-234 JAM, and United States v. Yan Ebyam et al., 2:11-cr-275-JAM and 2:11-cr-276-JAM). All defendants have now pled guilty to participation in the conspiracies, and most have been sentenced to prison.

These cases are the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. It was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Hitt, Todd A. Pickles, and Samuel Wong are prosecuting the cases.


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