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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Prosecutors ask to jail members of ‘Kettle Falls Five’ before sentencing

The United States Attorney's Office for Eastern Washington has made official its request to jail three members of a Stevens County marijuana growing collective before their sentencing on federal drug charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks asked that Rhonda Lee Firestack-Harvey, Rolland Gregg and Michelle Gregg be taken into custody Tuesday immediately after a jury returned a conviction on manufacturing between 50 and 100 marijuana plants. U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice said he would allow the trio to leave the courthouse, but that he would entertain the request if it was made in writing.

Hicks' colleague Catilin Baunsgard did just that Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the verdict was delivered. You can read the U.S. motion to detain the three defendants below.


Kettle Falls Motion for Detention

Hicks' request drew some angry responses from supporters of the family in the courtroom for the verdict Tuesday. But in the filing, the government argues that federal law requires the defendants to be detained because they face a potential maximum sentence of 20 years.

Attorneys for the group said Tuesday night they believed the five-year minimum prison sentence that originally applied to the defendants on the manufacturing charge still held true, despite the jury's finding that they grew fewer than 100 plants. Federal law is not clear on that issue, and other marijuana advocacy organizations said there may not be a minimum sentence for the charge the trio was found guilty of. 

Jurors acquitted the group of most of the charges against them, including distributing drugs and possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.

The government asked in its motion that Rice decide on the detention issue by April 3.

Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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