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Businessman Admits Growing Marijuana To Prop Up Company Owner Was Trying To Bail Out Failing Rafting Business

A Spokane businessman pleaded guilty Wednesday to growing commercial quantities of marijuana so he could funnel profits into his failing white-water rafting business.

David C. Jeffries admitted growing 100-200 marijuana plants in a locked crawl space beneath his family home at 508 E. Maxine in north Spokane.

He since has lost his business inventory and may lose his home, in addition to facing a possible jail sentence.

“I was the only person involved in this,” Jeffries told U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle.

Jeffries, 44, was arrested April 23 when a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent smelled marijuana outside Jeffries’ home, apparently venting from the crawl space.

A sworn statement from the DEA agent and other investigative leads convinced a judge to issue a warrant allowing police to search the home.

“I knew I was caught,” Jeffries said. “Only now am I realizing what a terrible, terrible mistake I made. I just can’t believe I did it.”

Jeffries said he initially was growing three marijuana plants. When his friends couldn’t find marijuana to buy, he said they encouraged him to expand his operation.

“I started again because my business was failing and I needed money,” Jeffries said. “That’s how I got caught.”

When police showed up at his home, Jeffries began cooperating immediately, telling officers he had funneled $50,000 in marijuana profits into his raft-sales business.

Police later searched Jeffries’ business, Big Wave Dave’s, located at 15 E. Walton, where rafts and water-sports gear were seized.

Those confiscated items will be forfeited in state court, where charges against Jeffries initially were filed. Police officials who know the value of those seized items didn’t immediately return telephone calls Wednesday.

Jeffries was indicted May 7. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants.

Sentencing was set for Oct. 8, and Jeffries can remain free until then.

As part of a plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will seek dismissal of a second count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice.

Jeffries agreed to either the forfeiture of his home or payment of $25,000, which is equal to his equity, Rice told the judge. That decision will be made later.

, DataTimes

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