A California man has pleaded guilty to selling a large quantity of marijuana in Pennsylvania in 2012.
Benjamin Choi, 26, pleaded guilty to a single charge of possession with intent to deliver in the courtroom of Philadelphia common pleas Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy.
Choi, a San Jose resident, entered the plea without making a sentencing deal with prosecutors. That means the sentence will be left to Demchick-Alloy’s discretion. Choi’s partner in the cannabis operation, Ralph Valdez, received a sentence of one to two years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Choi may not be sentenced for several months. Prosecutors must first prepare a pre-sentencing report illustrating his personal life and criminal background for the judge. This can take as long as three months to finish. Choi was released on bail pending his sentencing hearing.
The partners were arrested after two men sold five pounds of weed to an undercover informant for $12,000. The informant was wearing a wire, and the men told police they sold the drugs on behalf of Choi.
Police detectives then tapped phone calls between Choi and a suspect in an earlier drug deal. During their conversations, Choi told this informant he was worried about the deal and asked him how it went.
The informant told Choi the buyer never showed. But the informant said he talked to the buyer, and the buyer said he could pick up the pot in a few days. Choi responded by saying he had more weed to sell. He also told the informant to set up a meeting in Philadelphia.
There, police staked out the buy. The informant paid Choi $11,400 in tagged money in return for two pounds of marijuana. Choi also paid Valdez $500 for attending the meet. The two men were arrested as they left.
All pot is illegal under Pennsylvania law. Sale of between 2 and 10 pounds is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum one-year prison sentence and a fine of $5,000. There is no medical marijuana in the state, and there isn’t likely to be anytime soon, though some lawmakers are pushing the issue.