Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jun 2002
Source: Olympian, The (WA)
Copyright: 2002, The Olympian


SPOKANE -(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 to
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 plants.

"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
pretty great."

Federal prosecutors moved to seize seven homes in Spokane and an eighth
residence in Lewiston, Idaho, with a combined market value exceeding $2

600 Mature Plants

More than 600 mature marijuana plants were found this week in searches of
the Spokane homes.

The investigation involved the secret placement of time-lapse cameras in
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 to
obtain bank records, tax returns and electric bills, court documents showed.

The documents disclose that the case broke in February when a caller told
Spokane police Detective Mark Burbridge about cash deposits that smelled
like marijuana. Burbridge's tip was forwarded to a U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration task force.

The cash was traced to a Spokane interior design business, EJ Designs, and
subsequently to the eight homes and Moses Lake ranch, court records said.

Arrested were Francis Jenny, 64, and his wife, Kathleen C. Jenny, 58, of
Spokane, who owned the Moses Lake ranch and several of the houses. Their IRS
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
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