Modesto man pleads guilty in Newman marijuana grow

04/29/2013 12:34 PM

04/29/2013 11:03 PM

A 44-year- old Modesto man on Monday pleaded guilty to conspiring to grow 907 marijuana plants in a rural area along the San Joaquin River near Newman.

Phanetavanh Southammavong's sentencing hearing is scheduled forJuly 8, and he faces five to 40 years in federal prison and a $5 million fine. Southammavong pleaded guilty to conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana plants, cultivating the plants and possessing them with the intent to distribute.

The defendant was found at the growing site when narcotics investigators served a search warrant. While Southammavong initially claimed that the plants were being grown for medical reasons, federal prosecutors said, he later admitted he was growing the marijuana for profit and expected to sell the drugs for$800 per pound.

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