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4 Flathead County Men Arraigned on Federal Drug Charges

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Missoula, MT--Four Flathead County men accused of conspiring to grow and distribute marijuana in Missoula County pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges stemming from a series of raids on medical marijuana businesses around the state in March.

Evan James Corum, 25, of Whitefish, and Kalispell residents Jonathan Janetski, 43, Michael Kassner, 24, and Tyler Roe, 29, were arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Wednesday's arraignments bring to 10 the total number of people charged as a result of the federal search warrants executed during two days in March, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr. She wouldn't comment on whether more are expected.

The indictment against the four, filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara J. Elliott and Timothy J. Racicot, concerns more than 100 marijuana plants in Missoula County between September 2010 and March 14, 2011.

Corum is charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and money laundering.

Janetski, Kassner and Roe are charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.

The arraignments come against a backdrop of legal wrangling over medical marijuana in Montana. The 2011 Legislature approved severe restrictions on the 2004 voter initiative that legalized the medical use of marijuana.

Those curbs were supposed to take effect July 1. But at the last minute, parts of the new law were blocked by Lewis and Clark County District Judge James Reynolds, leaving many medical marijuana patients, caregivers and businesses confused about the legality of their involvement.

The first federal arraignments took place shortly after Reynolds held a three-day hearing last month on the Montana Cannabis Industry Association's move to block the law.

"We have learned that federal action on Montana medical cannabis growers will be timed to coincide with state decision-making," said Kate Cholewa, the group's spokeswoman, said Wednesday. "We were surprised when federal raids were timed to coincide with a critical vote on medical marijuana repeal in the Montana Senate Judiciary committee. But now there is a sad predictability to it."

Last month, three Helena men - Jason Burns and Jesse Leland, who are Helena caregivers, and Joshua Schultz, who ran a medical marijuana business in Great Falls - pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Missoula. All were charged with conspiracy, manufacturing marijuana, money laundering, distribution of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Also last month, a Helena family of three was arraigned in federal court in Billings on similar charges. Richard Flor, 67, Sherry Flor, 54, and their son Justin Flor, 34, all pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, plus money laundering and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense.

In Wednesday's case, the charges against all four men face carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years, four years' supervised release and a maximum $5 million fine.

Corum, Janetski and Kassner all are released on special conditions.


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: missoulian.com
Author: Gwen Florio
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: missoulian.com
Website: Medical marijuana: 4 Flathead County men arraigned on federal drug charges
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