10.31.2009

TS - Humboldt County men plead guilty to marijuana real estate buys

Humboldt County men plead guilty to marijuana real estate buys
Sean Garmire/The Times-Standard
Posted: 05/29/2009 01:15:32 AM PDT

Two Humboldt County men pleaded guilty in federal district court Wednesday to felony charges of maintaining property to cultivate marijuana and conspiring to launder money, after authorities uncovered large-scale pot gardens on four Humboldt County properties.
Jordan Pyhtila, 29, of Rio Dell, and Jessie Jeffries, 27, of Garberville, accepted plea agreements and pleaded guilty at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, after charges were issued against them in March, said U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Jack Gillund.
According to Gillund, Pyhtila and Jeffries surrendered themselves to authorities in early April after law enforcement investigators discovered about 4,677 marijuana plants growing on properties located in Garberville, Eureka, Miranda and Blocksburg.
Pyhtila and Jeffries agreed to forfeit those four properties as part of the plea agreements. Additionally, the two men agreed to give up a promissory note in the amount of $945,000, obtained from the sale of a subdivision the two men were developing on the Dinsmore Plateau in Rio Dell.
According to the plea agreements, the two men reportedly agreed a reasonable sentence is six years in prison, with an additional three years of supervised parole -- though that sentence has yet to be imposed by a federal judge.
Pyhtila and Jeffries began purchasing the properties in 1999, and maintained them through September 2008, according to the plea agreements. During that time, the men made the properties available to others for the cultivation of marijuana, and financed real estate purchased by others who planned to use the land to grow marijuana.
Pyhtila and Jeffries also helped other marijuana growing operations by financing equipment, building materials, plant clones, fertilizer, labor wages and various other expenses. In exchange, the two men received a portion of the profits made from the sale of marijuana grown on the properties.
The plea agreements also reveal the men admitted to using the net profits of the marijuana cultivation to finance their business, J&J Earthmoving, and to buy numerous other properties across Northern California, in order to conceal the profits earned from drug sales.
According to DOJ information, the two men used nominee owners on the various properties to conceal their ownership of the properties.
Pyhtila and Jeffries await sentencing, scheduled Sept. 9, before Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton in San Francisco.
Sean Garmire can be reached at 441-0514 or sgarmire@times-standard.com.