Seven pot growers arraigned | TheUnion.com

Seven pot growers arraigned

Seven Hmong pot growers were arraigned in Nevada County Superior Court Thursday and, with the help of an interpreter, entered not-guilty pleas.

In July, Nevada County Sheriff's deputies conducting compliance checks for the marijuana cultivation ordinance had gone out to a property in the 10000 block of Wild Turkey Lane, finding four separate grow sites.

The deputies reportedly counted about 400 to 500 plants and were told there were no recommendations on site, they contacted the Narcotics Task Force.

Task force members responded and reportedly located between 600 and 700 plants, as well as water lines and trails leading to a separate parcel where a well was being drilled.

The narcotics detectives then obtained a search warrant for both parcels and returned to the property again, Smethers said.

They reportedly subsequently located a total of 743 plants on one property and 97 plants on the other, all approximately 2 feet to 3 feet in height and immature.

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Only four valid medical marijuana recommendations reportedly were located. The deputies reportedly also found and seized a .22 rifle, a magazine and ammunition, and a 9-mm handgun, as well as $5,000. All seven people at the property said they were involved in the purchase of the property earlier in the year. The growers, who are all from Fresno or Merced, reportedly said they moved their operation from Tehama County this year after that county banned outdoor grows.

Patterson Yang, 53, Keng Yang, 61, Ka Chang, 50, Tou Xeng Cha, 58, Waying Vang, 82, Yia Yang Vang, 73, and Lao Yang, 56, all have been charged with criminal conspiracy and cultivating marijuana for sale.

They are set to return to court Jan. 21 for a felony conference.

Alleged counterfeit gold dealer takes plea

The Grass Valley gold dealer who has been charged with dozens of counts of possessing and selling counterfeit gold and financial elder abuse, as well as criminal conspiracy in a separate welfare fraud case involving his partner, signed a plea agreement that will send him to state prison for 13 years and four months.

Gregory Arnoldi 46, the owner of Grass Valley Gold and Silver, was arrested at his business in the 100 block of Mill Street after alleged victims reported they purchased gold bullion bars from Arnoldi at his business. The alleged victims said they discovered the bars they purchased were fake when they tried to redeem them at another dealer.

Arnoldi's partner, Shara Elaine Daly, 44, subsequently was charged with 25 felony counts of grand theft, criminal conspiracy, perjury, fraud to obtain aid, falsifying eligibility for aid and filing false documents. She reportedly was on government assistance while working at Arnoldi's business.

In Nevada County Superior Court Friday, Arnoldi pleaded no contest to nine counts in return for the prison sentence. It has been agreed that for every $100,000 he pays back prior to sentencing, the District Attorney's office will knock two years off his sentence.

Daly pleaded no contest to three counts in return for 180 days in jail and probation. Both are set for sentencing on Jan. 22; restitution in Arnoldi's cases will also be discussed at the 1:30 p.m. sentencing.