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Marijuana Grow House Leader Sentencer to 7 Years, 6 Months


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BUNNELL -- The leader of a ring that ran marijuana grow houses was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty.

Michael Fanelli, 39, was responsible for three grow houses in Palm Coast that produced 25 pounds of high-grade marijuana every 12 weeks, according to a news release from Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's office.

The estimated street value of each crop came to more than $110,000, according to the release.

Fanelli of Palm Coast and four other people ran the operation from rented houses in Palm Coast for about two years, delivering throughout North Florida.

Co-defendants include Fanelli's brother Troy Fanelli, Michael Belgarde and Tony Thatch. Earlier this year, they all pleaded guilty and their sentences ranged from 10 years probation to seven and a half years in prison, according to the news release.

Co-defendant William Stampfle has a sentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 9.

Police from three counties made the drug sweep in April. They pulled 200 pot plants, about $58,000 in cash and about 25 pounds of processed marijuana, according to the news release.

Outside of the drug ring, James O'Brien, the brother of a Flagler County Sheriff's Office major, was also arrested in April after investigators say they saw him buy the same kind of marijuana cultivation equipment the Fanellis used and followed him home.

He pleaded no contest and received 24 months probation. Sheriff Don Fleming said in April that Maj. David O'Brien was not involved with the marijuana production and had the sheriff's complete confidence.

Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2007 News-Journal Corporation
Contact: letters@news-jrnl.com
Website: Daytona Beach News-Journal Online
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