Alleged Marijuana Growers Arrested, Charged With Conspiracy to Bribe Siskiyou County Sheriff

A federal grand jury in Sacramento, California issued a four count indictment again a brother-sister team who allegedly tried to bribe a Siskiyou County, California, Sheriff.

Chi Meng Yang, 31, of Montague, and his sister Gaosheng Laitinen, 36, of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, are charged with conspiring to commit bribery, bribery of a public official, conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and manufacturing marijuana. Yang and Laitinen were arraigned on Friday, September 15, 2017, in Sacramento before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes.

According to court documents, on May 17, 2017, Yang met with Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey in Yreka and offered him $1 million in exchange for his assistance with an interstate marijuana distribution business that Yang and others were in the process of organizing in Siskiyou County. Immediately after the meeting, the Sheriff reported it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

To help in the investigation, Federal agents asked the Sheriff to continue meeting with Yang. The subsequent meetings were audio and video recorded by the FBI and Laitinen attended some of those meetings.

Because the $1 million offer depended on Yang securing and profiting from certain out-of-state marijuana licenses, Yang and Laitinen promised to pay the Sheriff a total of $80,000 if he would exempt eight properties from the Siskiyou County ban against outdoor marijuana grows. Yang and Laitinen gave the Sheriff several initial payments, totaling $10,500 in cash. These funds were immediately seized by the FBI as evidence.

If convicted of all charges, Yang and Laitinen face the following maximum penalties: (1) five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge; (2) 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the bribery charge; and (3) a minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine for each of the drug charges.

Both suspects are being held at the Sacramento County Jail and are not eligible for bail. 


Crime 3374530233599250728

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