Ford family pleads not guilty to federal drug chargesJury selection to begin in November
Bangor — Court records state that a couple from Monroe and their two adult sons have pleaded not guilty to federal charges stemming from a November 2011 pot bust that reportedly yielded more than $800,000 worth of marijuana.
According to court documents, the husband-and-wife duo of James F. Ford and Darlene Ford, both 57, of Monroe, and their two sons, 35-year-old James T. Ford of Monroe and Paul Ford of Swanville, all pleaded not guilty to drug and firearms charges during back-to-back arraignments at U.S. District Court in Bangor Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Court records also indicate jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 9 a.m. in preparation for the criminal trial.
Court documents state that James F. Ford was released on $20,000 cash bail. The court directed the elder Ford to report to U.S. Pretrial Services regularly, surrender his passport and not leave the state. He is also barred from possessing a firearm, alcohol or narcotics and bail conditions also state that he will be subject to random testing for drugs and alcohol. Court records show Darlene Ford was released on a $10,000 bond and further state that she must follow the same conditions of release as her husband, with the exception that she can use alcohol, but not to excess.
Paul Ford and his brother, James T. Ford, were both released on $5,000 cash bail and both men must follow the same conditions as their parents. In addition, the court specifically directed James T. Ford to refrain from having any contact with a woman who was described as either a victim or a witness in the case.
The Fords appeared for their arraignments after a federal grand jury indicted the family Friday, Sept. 14. At that time, the elder James Ford and his two sons were indicted for conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants and for manufacturing 100 marijuana plants or more — "manufacturing" is the federal term for cultivation. The parents were indicted for making their Swan Lake Avenue residence available for manufacturing and storing the drug. Court records also state that James F. and James T. Ford were each indicted for possessing firearms as convicted felons and the grand jury also indicted Darlene Ford for aiding and abetting her husband's possession of firearms.
Included in the indictment was a directive that James F. and Darlene Ford forfeit their Monroe home and property to the federal government.
The Fords first came into contact with Maine law enforcement on the night of Nov. 15, 2011, when Maine Drug Enforcement agents, as well as officers with the Maine State Police and Waldo County Sheriff's Office raided the residence of James F. and Darlene Ford. The search and seizure effort reportedly yielded about $800,000 worth of marijuana and an additional $80,000 in growing equipment, such as lights and a hydration system.
According to previously published reports, drug agents found the growing operation in the garage section of the home, and seized more than 300 marijuana plants in various stages of growth. The raid also reportedly resulted in the discovery of 10 pounds of processed marijuana and two semi-automatic assault weapons.
The elder Fords were suspected of harvesting about 20 pounds of marijuana every three months and shipping it to Massachusetts, MDEA stated at the time of the arrests.
Court documents state that the elder James Ford was convicted in 2002 of growing marijuana inside his home in Weymouth, Mass., and that house was later seized.