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Cannabis Growers Accused of Offering California Sheriff $1M Bribe

September 1, 2017
(RylandZweifel/iStock)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two Northern California marijuana farmers have been charged with offering a sheriff $1 million to turn a blind eye to their cannabis growing operations.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento charged siblings Chi Meng Yang and Gaosheng Laitinen with attempting to bribe Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey to protect their farms from raids. The complaint, unsealed Thursday, also alleges the brother and sister intended to sell their crop in Missouri, where efforts are underway to legalize marijuana in that state.

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Lopey said it started on May 17 when Yang met with the sheriff and a department captain in his Yreka, California office, about 300 miles (483 kilometers) north of San Francisco near the Oregon border.

Lopey said Yang offered to donate $1 million to any charity or cause the sheriff desired once he sold his crop in exchange for shielding 10 large-scale cannabis farms from raids. Siskiyou County bars the outdoor marijuana farms and limits the number of indoor gardens to 12 plants.

Lopey contacted federal authorities after the meeting and agreed to pretend to cooperate with Yang while secretly recording subsequent encounters. He met with Yang six more times and received $10,500 in cash as partial payment. Yang’s sister accompanied him to several of the meetings and gave the sheriff cash at one.

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Yang was arrested Thursday and authorities were searching for Laitinen. Yang appeared briefly in federal court Friday in federal court in Sacramento, but did not enter a plea. Yan’s public defender Doug Beevers didn’t return a phone call.

Lopey said deputies raided the farms Yang wanted protected, arresting 13 people and uprooting about 1,000 plants.

Rural counties throughout California have experienced a large influx of marijuana growers seeking to cash in on growing demand in the state and across the country. California was the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in 1999 and voters in November legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Missouri and several other states are considering similar legalization laws.

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In response, farmers have been snapping up inexpensive land in rural California while others trespass on state and federal lands to grow.

“We are absolutely overwhelmed by a large volume of marijuana growers,” Lopey said. “It’s transforming our community significantly and negatively.”

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  • alacrity

    funny- one Grower’s association offered $1 million to the local constabulary to increase patrols and protections and fund 8 more officers in Calavervas County in California- and was turned down.

  • Jackson Shredder

    Yeah I would not put it past any Police in the USA to be Honest in today’s world !! :)-
    If it was true the pig would have taken the money.

    • Snegurochka

      This sheriff is rabid anti-cannabis. The charge is suspicious to say the least.

  • Snegurochka

    I wouldn’t trust what Siskiyou Sheriff Jon Lopey said without strong confirming evidence–this is the guy who was telling us that the reason that Adam Lanza killed all those kids in Sandy Hook was marijuana–not a word about the assault rifle that really did the killing.
    Lopey is an admirer of Arpaio.

    PS I live in Siskiyou county, Cal.

  • Snegurochka

    From the Southern Poverty Law Center

    “This June, California officials were in Siskiyou County monitoring polling places on primary election day after reports that Hmongs, members of an Asian ethnic group, were facing voting intimidation led by Sheriff Jon Lopey. According to the online news outlet Raw Story, Lopey, a former CSPOA (“Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Assoc.) board member, set up a checkpoint and deputies allegedly stopped only cars driven by Hmongs. A Hmong leader also told the Redding Searchlight that officials carrying assault rifles went to Hmong homes and threatened to arrest people who tried to vote illegally. Lopey, who renounced his membership with CSPOA over what he said were the organization’s increasingly “extreme positions” on the Constitution and federal government, denied those allegations. “No one was threatened, and I would never condone discrimination against any person or group,” Lopey said.

  • Snegurochka

    From the Southern Poverty Law Center
    “This June, California officials were in Siskiyou County monitoring polling places on primary election day after reports that Hmongs, members of an Asian ethnic group, were facing voting intimidation led by Sheriff Jon Lopey. According to the online news outlet Raw Story, Lopey, a former CSPOA (“Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Assoc.) board member, set up a checkpoint and deputies allegedly stopped only cars driven by Hmongs. A Hmong leader also told the Redding Searchlight that officials carrying assault rifles went to Hmong homes and threatened to arrest people who tried to vote illegally. Lopey, who renounced his membership with CSPOA over what he said were the organization’s increasingly “extreme positions” on the Constitution and federal government, denied those allegations. “No one was threatened, and I would never condone discrimination against any person or group,” Lopey said.

    • Kenny Hotz

      What is an assault rifle? How does he know it was an assault rifle just by looking at it? It was suspicious though. i mean they only have a recording of the indecent to go on….

      Big pot going Big pharma on us paying people off.

      • Snegurochka

        Semi- and/or fully automatic center fire rifle with detachable magazine.
        I think the Hmong are familiar with the AR, like Lopey’s boys carry, as they were in some of the worst fighting in Vietnam, where they saved many US servicemen. Look up the history of the Hmong.
        Sure, and big booze builds wineries that employ people too–so what?
        If you don’t like “big Pot”, grow your own–oh wait, Lopey won’t let you if you live around here.

        • Kenny Hotz

          Oh good. My Mosin Nagant isn’t an assault rifle.

  • Snegurochka

    The sheriff in question, was quoted in the local newspaper a while back as stating that marijuana was responsible for Adam Lanza killing the kids at the school. This is the level we operate on around here in Siskiyou county California, otherwise known as Dukes of Hazzard County where Boss Hogge rules.

    • this is so sad. it is the opposite of what the east coast thinks is going on out there as we look to you (California) to show us how it’s done…..

      • Snegurochka

        Siskiyou county is more like Nevada in some ways, it’s divided, but the right-wingers have the upper hand now.

  • Pepfrank

    Hey