Kansas: 80-Year-Old Marijuana Dealer Pleads Guilty In Federal Court
By Steve Elliott
The dramatic exploits of a lifetime of smuggling came to an end on Thursday when 80-year-old Marshall Herbert Dion entered his guilty plea in federal court to running a huge marijuana-dealing and money-laundering operation.
Dion, who owned houses in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Arizona, had $11 million hidden in a North Reading, Mass., storage facility, and once crawled away from a Wisconsin plane crash as thousands of dollars in cash -- suspected drug profits -- floated through the air around him, reports Milton J. Valencia at The Boston Globe.
Under his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Dion could serve 5 to 7 years in a federal penitentiary, ending a lucrative career that spanned decades until a chance traffic stop in, of all places, Kansas.
“Over the course of the conspiracy . . . he had sold approximately 3,000 to 10,000 kilograms of marijuana,” Assistant US Attorney Leah Foley claimed during a brief court hearing.
"Mr. Dion has embraced his responsibility and is looking forward to the next chapter in his life," said his lawyer, Hank Brennan.
The end began for Dion's smuggling career with a June 2013 traffic stop in Junction City, Kansas. A police officer pulled him over for driving 80 mph in a 75 mph zone; during the stop, the officer searched Dion's old pickup and found nearly $850,000 in cash.
That sparked a federal investigation that led to the discovery of $2 million in a bank account, another $880,000 in an Arizona building, and the North Reading storage facility where authorities found 395 pounds of cannabis and $11 million in cash.
Foley told US District Judge Denise Casper that authorities discovered travel logs indicated Dion had sold more than 3,000 kilograms of marijuana, and possibly as much as 10,000 kilos, since 1992.
Dioa was convicted in Massachusetts in the late 1980s of drug trafficking after police in Boston found around 180 pounds of weed in a 1986 Chrysler sedan. Police later found 101 pounds of cannabis stashed in a storage building in Lynnfield.
After a plane crash in Wisconsin in 1985, Dion was found crawling through a muddy field; he denied that the $112,000 in cash found inside the plane and floating through the air was his.
He could get 60 to 87 months for conspiracy to deal marijuana, possession with intent to sell, and money laundering, under the deal he reached with prosecutors. He had faced a mandatory minimum of 10 years if he had been convicted in a trial. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 11.
Photo of Marshall Dion: Junction City, Kansas Police Department