A Nevada County man has been sentenced to prison and ordered to forfeit $2.4 million worth of property in a case involving marijuana cultivation and structuring of cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton today sentenced Charles Miller Hilkey Jr., 58, a resident of the Nevada City area, to four years and one month in prison. The judge also ordered Hilkey to forfeit to the United States 25 pieces of property in Oregon and California valued at more than $2.4 million, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.
Hilkey pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on Feb. 21, 2012. He was taken into custody following today's hearing.
According to court documents, Hilkey and others were involved in a four-year conspiracy to cultivate and sell marijuana. Between 2006 and 2009, Hilkey structured more than $850,000 in cash deposits with the intent of evading reporting requirements, authorities said. He admitted that the funds were either proceeds from marijuana cultivation or were intended to promote marijuana cultivation.
By 2009, Hilkey was the organizer of a well-concealed and well-funded marijuana operation, authorities said, with several marijuana grow sites under his control. He used straw owners to separate himself from a number of those grows, and he regularly used underlings to sell his marijuana.
In September 2009, investigators seized evidence of more than 200 marijuana plants, several pounds of processed marijuana, marijuana growing equipment, a firearm and ammunition, and more than $143,000 in cash on properties that Hilkey controlled.
The case resulted from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Nevada County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Justice.