MARIJUANA FARMER SENTENCED

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MARIJUANA FARMER SENTENCED

Man Who Let 'grass' Grow In Cornfield Gets 21 Months In Prison

Longtime Morgan County farmer William Beauprez, 63, bet the family farm on
a new cash crop: marijuana.

He lost.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Beauprez to a year and nine months in
prison, and the government will take his half of the 153-acre farm near
Wiggins that he shares with his wife, Lillian.

"He's a great guy," said his lawyer, Joseph St. Veltri. "Nice family. Nice
part of the country out there. Rolling waves of grain."

Plus, according to the government, rolling waves of 3,487 marijuana plants
in neatly aligned rows hidden in Beauprez's cornfield. Law officers spotted
the secret crop when they flew over it in a helicopter on July 22, 1997.

The corn was tall, but Morgan County Sheriff Jim Crone said the marijuana
plants were, too - 6or 7 feet tall, most of them, and altogether more than
2 tons. It took sheriff's deputies three days to haul it all away in
pickups and flatbed trucks.

When Crone and other officers went to the Beauprez farmhouse to question
him, he professed surprise about the marijuana in his cornfield, court
documents said.

Beauprez first told officers, "Those Mexicans must have done it," according
to the documents.

Crone called the FBI to help investigate. Agents learned that when Beauprez
hired someone earlier that summer to spray herbicide on his growing corn,
he ordered one field left alone - the one where the marijuana was growing.

"That's highly unusual, to not spray just one field," Crone said.

Eventually, Beauprez told agents that an anonymous man had telephoned him
in mid-July 1997, telling him there was something in his cornfield that
didn't belong to him and that he would be contacted again and asked to
leave his farm for several days.

In return, Beauprez said, the mysterious caller promised cash.

Court documents said Beauprez told the agents that after the telephone
call, he knew the marijuana was growing in his field, but he did nothing
about it. He didn't notify law officers, kept the field irrigated and
expected to receive the money.

In court, Beauprez pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to
distribute it. He also agreed to let the government take his half of the
farm without a legal battle under government forfeiture laws. St. Veltri
said the government agreed to let Lillian Beauprez - the innocent spouse -
keep her half and the farmhouse without a legal battle.

Denver U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock recommended that the U.S. Bureau
of Prisons let Beauprez serve his sentence at the federal prison camp in
south Jefferson County. He also ordered Beauprez to spend three years under
government supervision after he is released.

Someone in Beauprez's family may buy back his half of the farm from the
government, St. Veltri said. The price: $107,500 - exactly half the
$215,000 appraised value of the farm.

Crone said strangers really do contact Morgan County farmers, offering them
big money to let marijuana grow in their fields.

"Some people bite on that hook," Crone said. "For some of them, it comes
back to be their worst nightmare."

He said law enforcement authorities in agricultural Morgan County have
caught so many marijuana growers that they now routinely fly over the farms
in a helicopter once a year, looking for the illegal plants among the crops.

The typical grower is younger than Beauprez and probably smokes marijuana,
too, Crone said.

"But let's face it, marijuana is a huge cash crop," he said. "The money
that can be made, even by a person just allowing it to be grown in their
field, could be enough for somebody in his shoes to comfortably retire on,
and get out of farming."

"Farming's a tough business, both physically and financially," Crone said.
_____________________________________________
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MAP posted-by: Beth


Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 12:38:43 -0800
From: "D. Paul Stanford" <stanford@crrh.org>
To: restore@crrh.org
Subject: CO: Marijuana Farmer Sentenced
Message-ID: <5.0.0.25.2.20001210123832.04851830@mail.olywa.net>

Newshawk: Jane Marcus
Pubdate: Fri, 08 Dec 2000
Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Copyright: 2000 Denver Publishing Co.
Contact: letters@denver-rmn.com
Address: 400 W. Colfax, Denver, CO 80204
Website: Rocky Mountain News - A vital source for news and information in Denver and the Rocky Mountain area.
Author: Karen Abbott