Crime - Sacto 911

Nevada City woman sentenced to prison for marijuana cultivation

A Nevada City woman has been sentenced to five years and five months in federal prison for marijuana cultivation and structuring financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements.

Patricia Jane Albright, 64, pleaded guilty to the charges July 21. She was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

Albright’s son and co-conspirator, Jordan Wirtz, 29, previously pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime for possessing a loaded 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition in his residence at the grow site, authorities said. Judge Nunley sentenced Wirtz to five years in prison in February.

According to court documents, between 2008 and September 2010, Albright and several others manufactured marijuana on two properties she owned near Nevada City and Georgetown. Marijuana from Albright’s operation was regularly shipped out of state under fake names and addresses. At the time of Albright’s arrest on Sept. 28, 2010, investigators found marijuana plants, cash, processed marijuana and two firearms.

When Albright purchased the property near Georgetown in 2008 for growing marijuana, she structured 21 cash transactions at six different financial institutions over three days so she could avoid federal reporting requirements related to cash deposits, authorities said.

During the course of the investigation, which involved execution of 16 search warrants in three counties, law enforcement agents seized more than 4,100 marijuana plants, more than 200 pounds of processed marijuana, and numerous firearms.

A number of the defendants were armed at the time of their arrests and several had prior felony convictions for narcotics offenses, authorities said. One defendant was arrested in a marijuana grow with a firearm while on pre-trial release from an earlier arrest. He was facing charges for manufacturing marijuana in Southern California in 2009, authorities said. They reported that documents and items found at a number of the search locations show hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial transactions, and the interstate shipment of cash and narcotics.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration; the California Department of Justice; the Grass Valley Police Department; and the Nevada County, Placer County and El Dorado County sheriff’s offices.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy