San Diego man who made millions selling pot gets 8 years in prison
A 31-year-old San Diego man who admitted making enough money in a marijuana trafficking operation to pay cash for a $2 million home in Rancho Santa Fe has been sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison.
Joshua John Hester, sentenced Thursday in federal court, pleaded guilty to eight drug and money-laundering charges. He admitted being the silent owner of two marijuana dispensaries: Downtown Kush Lounge and Green Kross Collective in Mission Beach.
"Joshua Hester is the poster boy for the types of marijuana dispensary operations that the federal government is criminally targeting," said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.
Hester "wasn't overseeing a nonprofit collective that served sick people" but rather was selling top-quality pot to "recreational users and exploiting state laws that were meant to help the seriously ill," Duffy said.
Since October 2011, the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, has sent "cease and desist" demands to 253 marijuana dispenaries in the area. Only a dozen remain open, Duffy said.
Hester was sentenced to 100 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $570,000 in assets, including cash, vehicles and jewelry. Among other purchases, Hester bought a 37-acre property on Palomar Mountain as a growing site, according to court documents.
--Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Marijuana plant. Credit: Los Angeles Times