Pubdate: April 16, 1999
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 1999, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Contact:  414-224-8280
Author: Kevin Murphy Special to the Journal Sentinel


Madison - A Vernon County couple convicted of running one the state's
biggest marijuana-growing operations were sentenced to prison Thursday
and had their 460-acre farm taken away from them.

Gary Roth, 40, received a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence,
and his wife, Dawn Roth, 42, was sentenced to three years and one
month in prison. The two pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to
manufacture marijuana.

As part of a plea bargain, the couple agreed to forfeit their farm,
equipment and other assets totaling $908,000, the amount of their net
profits on the sale of marijuana from 1993 to 1998.

State and federal authorities raided the Roths' hog and grain farm in
December and seized 4,244 live marijuana plants from a hog barn that
was converted to a state-of-the-art marijuana factory. It took a
semitrailer to haul off the plants.

Gary Roth grew more than 700 pounds of marijuana between 1992 and
1998, authorities said.

Gary Roth took over his family's farm and steadily expanded
operations, which impressed neighbors and area businesses, according
to letters sent to the court.

At the time of his arrest, Gary Roth was raising corn and soybeans on
6,000 acres. To obtain the expensive equipment required to farm more
acres, he teamed in 1992 with another man and began cultivating marijuana.

Gary Roth pursued the illegal crop with the same expertise he used to
grow corn and beans, even traveling to the Netherlands to buy
marijuana seed, court records said.

Gary Roth became a successful marijuana farmer, growing 50 pounds in
1992 and doubling the harvest the next year, said Assistant U.S.
Attorney Daniel Graber.

Gary Roth sold the crop to a buyer in Minneapolis and grossed about
$10,000 a week, Graber said. Gary Roth and his partner had a falling
out over money in 1996, and Roth later bought him out for $35,000,
Graber said.

Dawn Roth did not become involved in the growing operation until the
couple separated in 1997 or 1998, said Gary Roth's attorney, Mark
Eisenberg. Dawn Roth, who worked as a travel agent, needed more money
and began tending the marijuana plants, said Graber. She was paid $400
for every pound sold.

When Dawn Roth asked the former partner in December to help tend the
plants so the Roths could go on vacation, the man told the authorities
about the operation in exchange for immunity.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said she gave Gary Roth a longer
sentence than his wife because of his role as leader of the operation.

Eisenberg said he would appeal Gary Roth's sentence.
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