Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Christopher Nielsen, Special Agent in Charge

October 13, 2011

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Fresno Conspirator Indicted For Marijuana Cultivation

FRESNO, CA - Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging Ong Rikki Sonephady, 41, of Fresno, with conspiring to cultivate and distribute marijuana.

According to court documents, Sonephady was arrested at the marijuana farm where he lived and the farm is within a mile of Central High School, West Campus. Law enforcement officers found and seized more than 2,000 marijuana plants and about 970 pounds of processed marijuana at the farm.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’(ICE) Homeland Security (HSI), the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the Fresno Sheriff’s Office, the Fresno Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Yasin Mohammad is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Sonephady faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum term of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will 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 and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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