A father and his son have been convicted by a jury for using their Massachusetts plumbing business as a front for a cannabis growing operation.
Charles Laverty, 63, and his son, Thomas, were found guilty Tuesday of growing 100 or more cannabis plants and of laundering money through their business, Chuck Laverty & Son, the Telegram & Gazette reported.
The men were arrested in October 2017 after Drug Enforcement Administration Agents found 1,029 cannabis plants at their Clinton warehouse. But the jury determined prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there were in fact over 1,000 cannabis plants.
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The defense contested the count of plants by claiming that only a quarter of the plants were capable of producing THC — the psychoactive component of cannabis.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William F. Abely II said the argument made by defense attorneys was "concocted out of thin air" because THC is not considered under the law, only the number of plants with roots. Judge Timothy S. Hillman agreed.
A conviction for growing 100 or more marijuana plants carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The minimum for 1,000 plants is 10 years.
Charles' wife and Thomas' mother, Andrea Laverty, pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to growing 1,000 or more marijuana plants. She also pleaded guilty to money laundering. Andrea Laverty did not testify at the trial of her husband and son, and the jury was not made aware of her plea deal. She is set to be sentenced in April.
In addition to the five year minimum on the marijuana charge, Charles and Thomas Laverty face up to 20 years in prison on the money laundering charge. The pair were also convicted of manufacturing marijuana with intent to distribute. Sentencing is set for May for both men.