Northern California

Pot growers accused of offering Northern California sheriff $1 million bribe

SAN FRANCISCO — Two Northern California marijuana farmers have been charged with offering a sheriff $1 million to turn a blind eye to their marijuana growing operations.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento charged siblings Chi Meng Yang and Gaosheng Laitinen with attempting to bribe Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey to protect their pot farms from raids. The complaint, unsealed Thursday, also alleges the brother and sister intended to sell their crop in Missouri, where efforts are underway to legalize marijuana in that state.

Court records said the sheriff notified federal investigators after Yang initially met with him on May 17. The sheriff wore a hidden recording device in subsequent meetings with Yang and his sister.

Yang was recorded giving the sheriff an initial $5,000 payment, the complaint alleged.

Yang was arrested Thursday and is scheduled to make an appearance in court Friday. Officials are still trying to find Laitinen.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said Yang does not yet have a lawyer.

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