A Big Piney man was sentenced to a one-and-a-half-year prison term for growing and distributing marijuana and money laundering during a hearing in federal court in Casper on Friday.

Stuart Doty had pleaded guilty in September to growing between 88 and 132 pounds of marijuana and setting up bank accounts to conceal the proceeds of his business known as Wyoming Tomatoes, LLC, or Wyomatoes, according to federal court records.

A count of money laundering conspiracy was dismissed as part of the plea deal.

U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl’s sentence was less than that recommended in the plea deal by Doty’s attorney Ian Sandefer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Sprecher. They recommended a sentence of between two years and two-and-a-half years in prison.

If the case had gone to trial and he had been convicted on both counts, he could have faced a prison term of up to 40 years.

Besides incarceration, $500 in community restitution, and three years supervised probation, Doty must forfeit $63,117 law enforcement agents seized when they searched his property.

During his plea, Doty told Skavdahl that his farming business had been declining and debts were mounting, so he converted about a third of his tomato greenhouse to growing marijuana.

Doty said he knew it was illegal, but he didn't realize the severity of the crime. He also knew that he was concealing the proceeds of his business -- money laundering -- when he deposited $35,020 in a bank in Colorado.

During the plea hearing, Skavdahl said Doty was cooperative and had adhered to the terms of his bond. Doty has remained free on bond. He is scheduled to surrender to being his prison term on March 25.

The case began Aug. 25, 2017, when agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Sublette County Sheriff's Office and other agencies executed a search warrant at Wyomatoes.

They found and seized about 50 pounds of suspected marijuana and equipment used to dry, package and weigh the plant, according to court records.

When law enforcement officers were searching his property, Doty arrived and admitted he had been growing marijuana in one of the greenhouses and distributing it outside Wyoming. He said his last grow began in January 2017.

Doty also showed officers where he had about 300 dried marijuana stalks and root balls.

When asked where he had been, Doty told a sheriff's deputy that information would incriminate him. The detective obtained another search warrant, searched Doty's van and seized $63,117 in two grocery bags.

The money laundering count alleges Doty did the same thing -- disguising the nature and source of the proceeds -- by depositing $35,020 in an account in a bank.

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