Man gets two-year sentence for tending to hundreds of marijuana plants

The last in a series of marijuana grow operation court cases in Red Deer has resulted in a federal jail sentence for a Red Deer chef.

The last in a series of marijuana grow operation court cases in Red Deer has resulted in a federal jail sentence for a Red Deer chef.

James Tang, 51, was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty on Wednesday to production of marijuana.

Charges of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and theft of electricity from the City of Red Deer were withdrawn by federal Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis.

Tang was scheduled to have a three-day trial in Court of Queen’s Bench before changing his plea.

Inglis said the bust was the last in about nine raids police made on grow operation houses in Red Deer during a period of a year beginning in early 2007.

Justice L.D. Acton of Edmonton heard that a residence frequented for five months by Tang on 81 Rutherford Drive was busted on Jan. 15, 2008, by RCMP.

Police discovered 734 marijuana plants in various stages of growth and valued yearly at almost $1 million if all the crops had been harvested.

Inglis said police received information from an informant and started surveillance of Tang.

They observed him for five months going from his house to the Rutherford Drive residence on a regular basis.

Inglis said police discovered Tang’s fingerprints in the house and receipts in his vehicle for gardening supplies.

Defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton told court her client ran into financial difficulty and was contacted by another person to look after the plants.

She said he never received any money from the operation. Acton said that’s one of the hazards of commercial pot growing. “You don’t make a nickle when the crops don’t sell,” she said.

Inglis said the sentence was an agreed arrangement and conforms to other sentences handed out in Red Deer for the previous grow operations.

Acton heard the sentences ranged from two years less a day to be served in the community to 28 months in jail.

She said this agreed sentence was “reasonable and fair.”

The judge said the guilty plea helped Tang, who didn’t have a previous record.

Acton said she has some knowledge of the Vietnamese culture and knows how upsetting it is to the family and that Tang is “mortified.”

“He doesn’t need a lecture.” Those are best saved for younger people in the same predicament, she said.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com