Cops: 2 charged in marijuana case

A marijuana plant flourishing under grow lights. (Oct. A marijuana plant flourishing under grow lights. (Oct. 26, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

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Two members of a large-scale marijuana growing and distribution ring, which sold some of the drug under the Bad Dog label, were arrested by federal agents and police during raids on Long Island Tuesday, officials said.

The two charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana at the federal court in Central Islip were Edward Dispirito, 55, of 1600 Osborne Ave., Riverhead, and James Ford, 70, of 3583 Tuscala St., Seaford, according to court documents.

The raids were conducted by agents of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Division and Suffolk police. The law enforcement officers are assigned to a task force aimed at forfeiting money earned in illegal activities.

The ring took in millions of dollars, the documents said.

Agents and police who raided Dispirito's Riverhead house found a sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operation, with 1,689 marijuana plants worth $3.8 million, and records indicating that Dispirito had illegally tapped Long Island Power Authority lines to steal $275,000 worth of electricity, the documents said.

The electricity was used to power 50 specialized grow lamps and other equipment to cultivate the drug indoors and eliminate heat and odor, the documents said.

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In Ford's Seaford house, officials found 5 pounds of packaged marijuana and hundreds of Bad Dog stickers.

Dispirito and Ford were not required to enter a plea.

Ford's attorney, Patrick Broderick, of Bayside, said after a hearing in federal court in Central Islip, "I don't understand why they are still prosecuting marijuana cases. It's a waste of federal money."

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Dispirito's lawyer, Leonard Lato, of Hauppauge, declined to comment, as did Eastern District federal prosecutor Burton Ryan.

Magistrate A. Kathleen Tomlinson released Dispirito on $450,000 bail; she said she would consider releasing Ford if he could come up with a bail package.

Dispirito and Ford each faces up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.

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