FRESNO — A married couple on Monday pleaded guilty in federal court to growing almost 500 marijuana plants found a year ago on a chicken ranch not far from Waterford High School, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento.
Federal prosecutors said Saelee Fahn Meng and her husband, John Yaohinh Lee, were growing 491 marijuana plants on a 20-acre parcel of farmland, which was about 450 feet from the high school and violated state and federal laws. The defendants owned the property.
Narcotics investigators say they found and seized the marijuana Aug. 28, 2012, on the property in the 11000 block of Yosemite Boulevard. The investigators said the plants weighed 8,880 pounds and could have produced an estimated $1.2 million in sales after harvesting and processing.
The prosecutors said the married couple, both 54 and from Waterford, claimed the plants were grown for medical reasons, but investigators didn't find any evidence of personal use. They said the number and weight of the plants far exceeded the amount purportedly recommended by their doctor, Terrill Brown, who has been indicted in a separate federal criminal case involving alleged illegal distribution of oxycodone.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 12.
Lee faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Meng faces a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine because she has a prior felony drug conviction in federal court for importing 95 kilograms of opium.
This case is a result of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency.