Attorney licensed in New Jersey and New York charged with marijuana offenses
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A grand jury brought a five-count indictment today against a Granite Bay resident, charging him with conspiracy to transport marijuana and concentrated cannabis oil in his Learjet, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux announced.
Manish Patel, 33, is an attorney licensed in New Jersey and New York. According to court documents, between February 27, 2017, and June 13, 2019, Patel allegedly conspired to fly marijuana and concentrated cannabis oil (tetrahydrocannabinol or TCH) from California across the country in his private airplane.
In May and June 2019, search warrants were executed at three locations that resulted in the seizure of approximately 1,400 pounds of marijuana contraband and $400,000 in cash. One of the locations searched was a warehouse being used as a laboratory to manufacture concentrated cannabis, where over 980 pounds of processed marijuana and over 50 pounds of concentrated cannabis were seized.
According to the criminal complaint, in January 2017, Patel is alleged to have paid $345,000 in cash for the Learjet. In August 2018, agents stopped Patel and several associates at an executive airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico and seized $80,000 in cash. When investigators searched the Learjet again in June 2019, it contained over 180 pounds of dried marijuana and over 18 pounds of THC. The flight plan for the Learjet showed that it was scheduled to fly to Colorado, then Illinois, and then New Jersey.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the El Dorado Sheriff’s Office, the El Dorado District Attorney’s Office, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, and the Placer County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Khasigian and Vincenza Rabenn are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Patel faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of up to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $5 million for the conspiracy to distribute marijuana and THC and possession with intent to distribute marijuana charges. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for possession with intent to distribute THC. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.