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United States v. Joshua Hester (2010-present, San Diego County)

posted Feb 1, 2013, 12:31 AM by The Editor   [ updated Feb 20, 2013, 8:41 PM ]
Federal agents arrested 12 people in San Diego County associated with Joshua Hester, who was arrested in West Hollywood on July 9, 2010.  The indictment claims that Hester, 29, distributed 3,000 pounds of marijuana he purchased from a major Los Angeles dealer in 2007 and 2008.  Federal authorities also claim that Hester was the silent owner of the San Diego's Downtown Kush Lounge and Mission Bay's Green Kross Collective.  The Mission Bay location was co-owned with Joseph Nunes, who was arrested in a September 2009 raid by San Diego law enforcement. Tara Hester and Justin Hunt were indicted for managing Green Kross Collective; Alec Pacillas, Zachary Dickinson and Stephanie Tine were indicted for managing Kush Lounge. Also charged were Kelsey Wiedenhoefer, Ryan Michael White, Rex Naanos, and Jay Hansen.

Joshua Hester pleaded guilty on January 3, 2012 to eight counts including conspiracy to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, conspiracy to maintain drug-related premises, and conspiracy to launder money.  Hester also agreed to forfeit $371,000, a 2007 Range Rover SUV, and gold, diamond and platinum jewelry valued at more than $163,000.  Hester was sentenced to 100 months in custody by U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez on January 24, 2013.

Court filings indicate that in May 2007, Hester transferred about $2 million to co-defendant Marco Manuel Luis, a real estate agent and mortgage broker, to buy a Rancho Santa Fe mansion.  Hester grew marijuana at the location and made $10,000 monthly payments to Luis, who was scheduled to go to trial later in 2012.  Hester also purchased 37 acres near Palomar Mountain through co-defendant Luis, who pleaded guilty in August 2012 to money laundering charges in connection with those properties and was sentenced to 48 months in prison.  Realtor Luis was also ordered to pay restitution of $329,767 to CitiGroup and $615,935 to JP Morgan for the Randcho Santa Fe and Palomar Mountain real estate transactions.

Hester will serve over eight years in federal custody for operating Kush Lounge and Green Kross Collective.  Since October 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration, has issued cease and desist letters to about 253 marijuana dispensaries in the San Diego County and Imperial County. The Department of Justice reports that there was a 95 percent self-closure rate in response to the letters.  Fourteen remaining dispensaries in the San Diego area were raided in September 2009.

Joshua John Hester #59277-112
San Diego MCC
808 Union St.
San Diego, CA 92101

Sources:


Littlefield, Dana. "Head of Major Pot-selling Ring Pleads Guilty." U-T San Diego. The San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Jan. 2012. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. <http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/03/leader-of-pot-selling-ring-pleads-guilty>.

Moran, Greg. "Marijuana Arrests at Pivotal Moment." U-T San Diego. The San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 July 2010. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. <http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2010/jul/18/marijuana-arrests-at-pivotal-moment>.

"San Diego Man Is Sentenced to 100 Months for Running Marijuana Dispensary and Money Laundering." DEA.gov. United States Department of Justice, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. <http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/sd/2013/sd012413.shtml>.
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