Chris Bartkowicz indicted: Faces up to 40 year sentence for Highlands Ranch marijuana grow

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Chris Bartkowicz is taking a big risk.
In February, HIghlands Ranch's Chris Bartkowicz showed off his home medical marijuana grow to Channel 9, after which he was promptly busted by the DEA -- an arrest that earned criticism from MMJ advocate Rob Corry and even Representative Jared Polis.

Despite such support, Bartkowicz reportedly planned to plead guilty in relation to the charges against him -- but last month, he changed his mind. That led to the U.S. Attorney's Office formally indicting Bartkowicz on three counts related to possession and intent to distribute marijuana. And the potential punishment if he's found guilty could be hefty.

The six-page indictment -- click here to read it -- declares that if convicted of the offenses, Bartkowicz "shall forfeit to the United States any and all property, real or personal, constituting or derived from any proceeds the said defendants obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the said violations and any and all property used or intended to be used in any manner or part to commit and to facilitate the commission of the violations alleged."

But that's only the beginning. A release from the U.S. Attorney's Office notes that Bartkowicz faces between five and forty years in prison plus up to a $2 million fine if the ruling goes against him. And that's only if he has no previous felony drug convictions. If he does (and the feds believe he may have two), the sentence could go up to sixty years in stir because his home was within 1,000 feet of a school.

Read the entire release below:

HIGHLANDS RANCH MAN, CHRISTOPHER BARTKOWICZ, INDICTED FOR MARIJUANA DISTRIBUTION OPERATION

DENVER -- Christopher Bartkowicz, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was indicted by a federal grand jury late yesterday on charges of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and distribution or manufacturing near a school, United States Attorney David Gaouette and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sweetin announced. The defendant is free on a $10,000 secured property bond

Bartkowicz was first charged by Criminal Complaint on February 16, 2010 after the DEA conducted a consensual search at Bartkowicz's residence. Barkowicz later waived his right to indictment, and was charged by Information on March 5, 2010. At a change of plea hearing on April 16, 2010, scheduled at the request of the defendant, Bartkowicz announced his intention to go to trial on the charges. The grand jury then returned the 3 count indictment yesterday.

According to the indictment, on February 12, 2010, Bartkowicz knowingly and intentionally manufactured, distributed, dispensed, and possessed with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight. Also, between December 12, 2009, and February 12, 2010, Bartkowicz knowingly leased, rented, used and maintained a place, whether permanently or temporarily, for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, and using any controlled substance, which in this case was marijuana. Lastly, on February 12, 2010, the defendant knowingly and intentionally manufactured, distributed, dispensed, and possessed with intent to distribute a quantity of 100 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight, within 1000 feet of a school, namely Sand Creek Elementary.

The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation, which states in part that Bartkowicz shall forfeit to the United States any and all property, real or personal, constituting or derived from any proceeds the defendant obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the crime alleged, and any and all property used in any manner or part to commit and to facilitate the commission of the violations alleged in the indictment.

If convicted of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight, the defendant faces not less than 5 years, and not more than 40 years in federal prison, as well as a fine of not more than $2,000,000. Regarding this count, if the defendant has prior convictions for separate felony drug offenses, then he faces not less than 10 years, and up to life in prison, as well as a $4,000,000 fine. If convicted of maintaining a drug-involved premises, the defendant faces not more than 20 years in federal prison, and up to a $500,000 fine. If convicted of distribution or manufacturing in or near schools, and the defendant has at least one prior felony drug conviction, then he faces three times the maximum punishment, which in this case is 60 years imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys M.J. Menendez and Robert Mydans.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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