Suspended sentences given pot farmers
A state Superior Court judge Tuesday gave suspended sentences to a Danbury restaurateur and two members of his family charged with running a marijuana farm in their New Milford home.
Hung V. Pham, 47, and his 54-year-old brother, also named Hung V. Pham, had pleaded guilty to a single felony count of possession of more than four ounces of marijuana.
The younger Mr. Pham's son, Tony, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, but charges against his wife, Oanh, were nolled.
The 47-year-old Hung Pham escaped jurisdiction by returning to Canada this week, where he holds citizenship, according to Litchfield Superior Court Clerk.
Mr. Pham will not be able to re-enter the country without facing charges, the clerk said.
His attorney, William A. Conti, represented him in court, according to the clerk.
The proceedings before Judge James Ginocchio closed a case that began Dec. 16, 2009 when New Milford and state police raided the Pham residence at Arthur's Court and discovered evidence of what they called a potentially large-scale indoor marijuana cultivation operation.
Two basement rooms in the two-story, nine-room colonial home owned by Mr. Pham and his wife, who run a Vietnamese restaurant in Danbury, had been modified with heating, lighting and ventilation equipment, police said.
In addition to seizing some 30 plants in various stages of growth, police found evidence several dozen plants had already been harvested.
The raid was sparked by a complaint from Connecticut Light & Power regarding the alleged theft of electricity by the homeowners.
Originally, all four Phams were charged with operating a drug factory, conspiracy to cultivate marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and risk of injury to a minor.
Both Hung Phams drew five-year suspended jail sentences and three years of probation, and Tony Pham was sentenced to a one year in jail suspended and two years of probation.
None of the four had a prior criminal record, according to Assistant State's Attorney David Shannon.
Judge Ginocchio also ordered them to pay a $50,000 fine, but the state will not try to seize the home under asset forfeiture laws, Mr. Shannon said.