80-year-old pot dealer gets 10 years after colorful history

This June 2013 file photo provided by the Junction City, Kan., Police Department shows Marshall Dion of Tucson, Ariz., arrested and charged with speeding and transporting proceeds from illegal drug sales. A federal judge sentenced Dion to 10 years in prison during a hearing in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. (Junction City Police Department via AP, File)

BOSTON (AP) — An 80-year-old man who ran a sprawling marijuana-dealing operation that covered several states, with records going back to 1992, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Marshall Dion pleaded guilty last year to drug and money-laundering charges, and Tuesday’s sentencing in Massachusetts was the latest chapter in a long, colorful history with law enforcement.

In 1985, he crashed a single-engine plane he was piloting in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, breaking both his ankles. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, he was crawling along a muddy field as money floated in the air. The government was allowed to keep nearly $112,000 in cash recovered from the crash scene after a judge found it was likely drug proceeds, but Dion was not charged criminally.

When police in Junction City, Kansas, stopped him for speeding in 2013, they found about $828,000 in cash in his pickup truck. A federal investigation led authorities to Massachusetts and Arizona, where they found about $15 million in cash, nearly 400 pounds of marijuana and ledgers detailing drug deals going back to 1992.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper rejected a plea agreement that called for a five- to seven-year prison sentence for Dion. His lawyers then reached a new agreement with prosecutors that called for a sentence range of five to 10 years. Judge Denise Casper sentenced him to the maximum during a hearing in U.S. District Court.

Dion has been in custody since his arrest in 2013, so he has already served 2 1/2 years of his sentence. He declined to address the court during his sentencing hearing.

Dion’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, recommended a five-year sentence. He said Dion was nonviolent and lived a simple life, despite the large quantities of cash his business made.

“He didn’t have that lure of greed and power and oppression. He is a simple man who lived a very routine and habit-filled life,” Brennan said after the hearing.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of a little over six years. A spokeswoman for prosecutors did not return a call seeking comment.

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Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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