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Nevada City Man Pleads Guilty in Marijuana Conspiracy

A Nevada County man arrested 3 years ago on federal money laundering and drug charges has entered a guilty plea in federal court.

 Charles Miller Hilkey Jr., 58, of the San Juan ridge, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District court to conspiring with others to cultivate marijuana and to structuring financial transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.

 According to court documents, Hilkey was the leader of significant marijuana grows operation on multiple properties that he controlled ostensibly for medical purposes. He and his confederates “structured” various financial transactions with at least $859,000 made selling marijuana so as to avoid financial reporting requirements under federal law.   Between 2006 and 2009, Hilkey also amassed a significant amount of real property, which is now being forfeited to the federal government as a result of his marijuana-related activities. Hilkey will forfeit approximately 25 different properties in Oregon and California with a combined value of more than $2.4 million.

This case is the product of an investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Department of Justice, and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michael M. Beckwith is prosecuting the case.

Hilkey is scheduled to be sentenced   June 12, 2012. He faces a maximum statutory penalty for the marijuana charge of 40 years in prison, a $2 million fine, and a life term of supervised release.

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