Pot case defendant gets suspended sentence, fine


The Colorado man who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a marijuana growing case was given a suspended sentence and a $500 fine after a plea agreement with the state.

Jonathan Hunt, 44, was sentenced Nov. 21 in Moody County Circuit Court after having agreed to testify in the case against his boss, Eric Hagen, earlier this year. Hagen, who was president and CEO of Monarch America, was found not guilty in a jury trial.

Hunt, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a half but less than one pound of marijuana, also was ordered by Judge Patrick Pardy to pay $104 in court costs in addition to his fine. Under the suspended imposition of sentence, the class 5 felony will be erased from Hunt’s record and the case will be sealed.

Hunt’s sentencing concludes an investigation that started with indictments in August 2016.

More than a year earlier, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe executive committee had entered into a five-year agreement with Monarch America to design, construct and develop a 10,000-square-foot marijuana grow facility to supply a 15,000-square-foot retail recreational marijuana consumption lounge, according to court papers. The tribe and Monarch started building the grow facility, and Hunt, who was vice president and chief operating officer of Monarch, ordered the seeds from the Netherlands and had them shipped to the tribe offices. Hunt and others planted about 30 of the 55 strains of seeds, court papers say.

In November 2015, the crop was burned and the unplanted marijuana seeds were left in the possession of the tribal council. Hagen and Hunt each told investigators that the tribe paid for the costs of the grow facility and made an initial investment of $600,000 in Monarch.

Hunt said he worked 16-hour days at the facility and that they had about 600 germinated plants. He expected to harvest about 30 pounds a week once the facility was up and running.

In court, Hunt’s lawyer Clint Sargent of Sioux Falls said his client admitted his role in the case, cooperated and has no prior convictions. He asked for the suspended imposition of sentence, which Bridget Mayer, representing the Attorney General’s office, said she would not oppose.

Hunt declined to make a statement in court or after the sentencing. He has been out of jail on a personal recognizance bond since pleading guilty in August 2016.

 

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