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Pregnant Bothell woman sentenced to 3 years for illegal marijuana ring
A pregnant Bothell woman is going to federal prison for three years, but not until after she gives birth to her child in Feb. 13, 2015.
Thi Nguyen Tram Bui pled guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana four months before it was legalized in Washington state. Bui and her husband Keith Ly were charged by the U.S Attorney’s Office with growing marijuana in gardens planted inside three suburban homes in Seattle from 2011 to February 2012. The marijuana ring was allegedly discovered after Bui was pulled over by law enforcement and police found more than one pound of marijuana in the driver’s seat of her Mercedes and $8,900 cash, according to charging documents.
Ly is in trial this week, awaiting his sentence.
Bui is in supervised release until imprisonment. Special conditions of her supervision include Bui must provide the probation officer with access to any requested financial information, she must disclose all assets and liabilities to the probation office and if deported, Bui cannot reenter the United States without permission from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Bui’s defense attorney, David Gehrke, pointed out that the country is moving toward marijuana legalization and that legalization of the drug in Washington and Oregon has not prompted spikes in high-driving arrests and the general national trend toward fewer violent crimes continues.
Washington’s decriminalization laws allows only licensed growers to produce marijuana for sale. While restrictions on the size and shape of those gardens vary by locale, none can be licensed in homes located in neighborhoods or near schools.
In writing the court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Vogel alleged that Bui led the operation, ran it day-to-day and hired workers to tend to the marijuana. The prosecutor claimed that by doing so, Bui threatened the safety of those living near the homes where the marijuana grows were located.
“Marijuana grows, like drug stash houses, are a matter of public safety,” Vogel wrote. “They attract additional criminal conduct and invite violent behavior. Through their conduct, driven purely by personal greed, Ms. Bui and her associates placed innocent people at risk.”
Gehrke said no violence was reported in connection with the ring Bui was involved in and that his client used the money she made to help her pay her bills after a life of struggle.
“She has shown that she is a survivor,” Gherke said.
As a deportable person, Bui won’t be eligible for early release or preferable prison programs available to U.S. citizens serving time, including the Bureau of Prison’s Mother and Infants Together program. This program would have allowed her to spend time with her child in a non-prison setting.