Mat-Su man sentenced to 17 years on pot charges

Posted: Tuesday, August 29, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Wasilla marijuana-grower was sentenced Monday to 17 years in federal prison on money laundering charges.

Robert Johnston III, 61, owned and operated one of the most sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operations in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys, prosecutors said.

Johnston had been found guilty by a jury of 49 counts of money laundering stemming from drug manufacturing activities. His marijuana growing operation was shut down in November of 1996 when troopers seized more than 70 pounds of marijuana growing indoors on six foot trees.

According to court documents, Johnston spent more than $300,000 in cash receipts from marijuana sales during 1995 and 1996. Some of the money was used to maintain a Wasilla building where his marijuana factory was housed. Another portion was funneled through the name of a fictitious tenant at the grow site.

Johnston was convicted on state charges of growing marijuana as well as electrical theft, but has yet to serve any state time.

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick said that Johnston ''has shown contempt for the rule of law stretching back over four decades.''

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