California marijuana plant grower faces $3M civil suit

A California grower facing federal civil forfeiture charges over alleged illegal marijuana grow operations has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and to pay $3 million in restitution.

The federal government accused David Rios, a Colorado-based entrepreneur, of operating an illegal cannabis grow operation in Santa Cruz, California, where he allegedly grew marijuana and supplied it to other people.

Rios is facing up to 30 years in prison, but his lawyers say the plea deal will likely be reduced to six months and that he will be able to work as a landscaper.

Rio’s attorneys had requested a reduced sentence, but Judge Mark A. DeStefano on Monday agreed with the prosecutors that the defendant would not be facing any more prison time.

The judge also agreed that Rios had agreed to cooperate with the federal government.

The Santa Cruz judge ordered Rios to forfeit $2.7 million in cash and to register as a sex offender.

Rios is also prohibited from owning firearms.

DeStefanos sentencing will be determined by the United States Sentencing Commission.

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