Feds drop motion to detain Hilkey on marijuana cultivation charges | TheUnion.com

Feds drop motion to detain Hilkey on marijuana cultivation charges

The federal government on Friday dropped its motion to continue to detain a San Juan Ridge man who had pleaded guilty to money-laundering and marijuana cultivation and who had been set for sentencing this week.

Charles Miller Hilkey Jr. had been arrested Oct. 16 for allegedly violating his release conditions.

The original charges against Hilkey stem from a raid in September 2009, when agents allegedly uncovered more than 6,000 marijuana plants, 135 pounds of processed marijuana and $200,000 in cash.

Hilkey allegedly was the leader of a significant marijuana operation and “structured” various financial transactions with some of the money made selling marijuana in order to avoid financial reporting requirements under federal law. He structured at least $859,000 in numerous transactions with one or more domestic financial institutions, usually post offices in Nevada County, according to court documents.

Hilkey pleaded guilty in February to conspiring with others to cultivate marijuana and to structuring financial transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements. He agreed to forfeit approximately 25 different properties in Oregon and California with a combined value of more than $2.4 million, as well as more than $90,000 in cash. Hilkey’s new attorney, William Portanova, filed a motion opposing Hilkey’s detention, and the government withdrew its motion to revoke his release Friday afternoon.

According to Portanova, the government had alleged that Hilkey had associated with a neighbor, Douglas Giffin, and had been growing marijuana on two separate properties.

But Portanova argued that one of the properties, on Patterson Mine Road, had been forfeited to the government and was no longer under Hilkey’s control. The other property, on Tyler Foote Crossing Road, belongs to Siegfried and Sherry Knoll, who are growing medical marijuana, Portanova wrote.

“The allegations were unproved,” Portanova said, adding that he does not fault the federal investigators for filing the detention motion.

“This is a case involving people of good will, trying to do the right thing,” he said. “In this case, the right thing was that the motion was withdrawn, so that Charlie Hilkey could be released.”

Hilkey’s sentencing, which has been re-scheduled multiple times, is set for Nov. 6, for now.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

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