A 50-year-old man has been sentenced to life in federal prison for establishing a marijuana farming cooperative and selling the illegal plant.
Donald Clark of Myakka City was one of 28 Manatee County residents charged with conspiracy to grow and distribute marijuana.
Prosecutors charged that Clark, a watermelon and sod farmer, indoctrinated a whole community into the ways of marijuana cultivation and was part of an operation that produced 1 million plants.
Clark was the only defendant who did not reach a plea bargain. His co-defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 15.
“It’s become a system now where you’re punished if you exercise your right to a trial,” defense lawyer Lane Vaughn said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich said she had no discretion in sentencing Clark under federal guidelines.