An incredibly profitable Laguna Beach marijuana operation underway while Hollywood director Oliver Stone ironically filmed Savages in the heavenly coastal Orange County village has cost a man his freedom.
Following a 2012 arrest, Richard Ashley Parker eventually took a plea bargain for his role in a $600,000 a month pot grow house operation that involved players in Hollywood, North Hollywood, Thousand Palms and Las Vegas, and a national drug distribution network.
Parker isn't new to crime. In 2002, federal agents won convictions against him for operating a mortgage loan con game that stole $13 million from 112 victims. He received a prison sentence of 57 months.
Within a year of his release, Parker served with his wife Lisa as principal participants in the pot scheme by aiding in money laundering and interstate narcotics distribution in places like Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, according to court records.
Parker had no clue that undercover, Los Angeles-based Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents were working with at least one confidential informant who secretly proved information about the operation in hopes of remaining in the U.S. following criminal convictions and potential deportation.
This month inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna declined a prosecutor's request for a 51-month prison sentence for Parker.
Instead, he handed the drug dealer a 41-month trip and three years of supervised probation upon his return to society.
Selna gave Parker until noon on April 30 to surrender to U.S. marshals.
Others arrested in the case--Parker's wife Lisa, Garrick Beal, Andre Nevin Wegner--have acknowledged guilt and await sentencing, according to court records.
One accused participant, Nicholas Lopez, is free on bail but hasn't confessed to any crime.
Eliyahu Marciano (AKA "Lucky") was named in the government's original complaint, but there's no indication that the Los Angeles man is being pursued unless his status is shielded in sealed portions of the case.
No word on what the defendants thought of Stone's wild tale of a Laguna Beach pot operation based on a novel by Don Winslow.
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. Corporate crooks won’t take his calls. Murderous gangsters mad-dogged him in court. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Pusillanimous cops have left hostile messages using fake names. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. And a frantic state legislator literally caught sleeping with lobbyists sprinted down state capital hallways to evade his questions in Sacramento.