August 19, 2013
Contact: Casey Rettig
Phone Number: (415) 436-7900
Strawberry Marijuana Farmers Plead Guilty
Over four tons of marijuana seized near high school
FRESNO, Calif. - Saelee Fahn Meng, aka Kathy Ming Lee, 54, and her husband, John Yaohinh Lee, 54, of Waterford, Calif., entered guilty pleas today for their involvement in growing 491 marijuana plants on their strawberry farm near Waterford High School, Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents and proceedings, the couple was found at a marijuana grow site on a 20-acre parcel of farm land that they own. The grow was approximately 450 feet from Waterford High School, in violation of both federal and California law. Agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA) and Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency found and eradicated 491 marijuana plants weighing more than four tons. The couple claimed the plants were being grown for medical reasons. However, the agents did not find any evidence of personal use in the residence on the property and the number and weight of the plants far exceeded the amount purportedly recommended by their doctor, Terrill Brown, M.D., who has been indicted in a separate case in federal court involving the unlawful distribution of oxycodone.
They are scheduled for sentencing on November 12, 2013. Due to a prior felony drug conviction in federal court for importing 95 kilograms of opium, Saelee faces a sentence of five to 40 years in prison, and a $5 million, as to each count. Her husband faces a maximum prison term of five years in prison, along with a fine of up to $250,000. 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 case was investigated by the DEA and Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, a multi-agency drug task force in Modesto. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting this case.