SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Bank tellers smelled marijuana on the weekly cash
deposits from an interior design business. They told authorities, who
cracked a huge indoor pot-growing operation.
The marijuana was being grown in homes ranging in value from $136,000
more than $343,000, including one on Spokane's scenic High Drive.
Five people in their 50s and 60s were arrested on federal drug charges.
The five made initial appearances Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge
Cynthia Imbrogno on charges of manufacture of more than 100 marijuana
"This was literally right under everybody's nose," U.S. Attorney James
McDevitt said Thursday. "It represents a sizable and sophisticated drug
operation. The potential for the loss of assets (by the defendants) is
Federal prosecutors moved to seize seven homes in Spokane and an eighth
residence in Lewiston, Idaho, with a combined market value exceeding $2
Agents also searched a Moses Lake farm where investigators say they
believe the marijuana grown in Spokane was processed and distributed.
More than 600 mature marijuana plants were found this week in searches
the Spokane homes.
The investigation involved the secret placement of time-lapse cameras
exclusive South Hill neighborhoods to allow investigators to watch
unoccupied homes where marijuana plants were grown under high-intensity
lighting in basements.
Investigators also used surveillance aircraft and grand jury subpoenas
obtain bank records, tax returns and electric bills, court documents
The documents disclose that the case broke in February when an anonymous
caller told Spokane police Detective Mark Burbridge about cash deposits
smelled like marijuana.
Burbridge's tip was forwarded to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
The cash was traced to a Spokane interior design business, EJ Designs,
and subsequently to the eight homes and Moses Lake ranch, court records
Arrested were Francis Jenny, 64, and his wife, Kathleen C. Jenny, 58,
Spokane, who owned the Moses Lake ranch and several of the houses. Their
tax records list their occupations as farmer and homemaker. Also arrested
were Virginia "Ginger" L. Erickson, 59, of Spokane, and Gregory A.
Montgomery, 54, who lived in the Lewiston, Idaho, house owned by Kathleen
Erickson's husband, Jack N. Erickson, 66, an insurance salesman, was
arrested late Thursday as he returned from a European vacation.
The business, EJ Designs, was opened in 1994 by Ginger Erickson and
Kathleen Jenny, the documents said.
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Investigators seized more than $80,000 in cash and a number of expensive
vehicles. Court documents said another company, used as a front for the
operation, may have $945,000 in cash or assets.