Viroqua Couple Plead Guilty to Marijuana Charges!

Viroqua Couple Plead Guilty to Marijuana Charges!
Posted by FoM on February 20, 1999 at 06:55:08 PT

 A rural Viroqua couple accused of running one of the state's largest marijuana-growing operations pleaded guilty to drug charges in federal court Friday. 
Gary R. Roth and Dawn M. Roth each face between 10 years and life in prison after being convicted of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana. As part of a plea bargain, the couple agreed to forfeit assets and cash totaling $908,000, their net profits on the sale of marijuana from 1993 to 1998. In return, the prosecution will recommend to U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb that the couple receive a lesser sentence because they accepted responsibility for their actions. However, no specific prison sentence will be recommended when the couple appear in court on April 15. The couple was turned in by a former partner in the operation, according to information given during their plea hearing Friday. State and federal narcotics agents searched the Roths' farm southwest of Viroqua on Dec. 3 and seized 4,200 marijuana plants, 17 pounds of processed marijuana, a vast assortment of marijuana-growing equipment and chemicals, and $23,000 in cash stashed in a pail. Authorities needed a semitrailer to remove all the marijuana and equipment in what Attorney General James Doyle described as one the state's largest marijuana busts ever. According to documents filed in court and testimony offered Friday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber: Gary Roth, 40, a crop and hog producer, began studying cultivation of marijuana in 1992. He soon teamed up with a man who agreed to be responsible for growing the plants while Roth did the harvesting, packaging and sales. Although the man's name was named in court documents, he was given immunity by the government for informing them about the Roths' operation. Because he will not be charged, the Journal Sentinel is not naming him. The operation began with about 140 plants. At its peak it had about 6,000 plants under cultivation. The operation produced from six to eight pounds of marijuana every two weeks, which Gary Roth sold for $3,500 because of its high quality. Gary Roth split the profits with his partner, who said that amounted to $500,000 in 1996 alone. The partners had a falling out over money in 1996, with the partner claiming that Gary Roth was "cooking the books" to cheat the man out of his fair share. The former partner alerted narcotics enforcement agents about the operation while the Roths were on vacation in December. In court Friday, Gary Roth said he turned to marijuana growing because his other crops were not generating enough income. Profits from the marijuana operation were plowed back into the farm to purchase heavy equipment and recreational vehicles, he said. Gary Roth was taken into custody Friday. Dawn Roth remains out on bail until March 4, when a guardianship hearing is scheduled for her children, ages 5 and 15. 
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