After deliberating for nearly three hours, a jury at U.S. District Court in Bangor returned guilty verdicts on charges a Monroe man faced for his role in a marijuana-growing operation in which police seized about $800,000 worth of the drug at his residence two years ago.

Court records show that on Thursday, Nov. 21, the jury found 58-year-old James F. Ford guilty of conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing 100 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In a trial brief filed with the court Nov. 12, James F. Ford's defense attorney, Hunter J. Tzovarras took issue with the penalty range of zero to five years imprisonment on the government's charge indicating his client conspired to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants. Tzovarras argued that because the charge does not attribute a specific amount to James F. Ford, the charge is ambiguous.

"An indictment must set forth each element of the charged offense," Tzovarras stated. " …  Any fact (other than prior conviction) that increases the maximum penalty for a crime must be charged in an indictment, submitted to a jury, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Tzovarras also stated the government's accusation that his client conspired with his other son, James T. Ford or the other named co-defendants — which also include his wife, 58-year-old Darlene Ford — is incorrect.

"A conspiracy must involve an agreement between at least two people. A conspiracy is not possible when the defendant had no agreement with another person to commit the charged offense," stated Tzovarras.

James F. Ford, his wife, 58-year-old Darlene Ford and his two sons, James T. and Paul Ford, first drew the attention of law enforcement in November 2011. At that time, police and Maine Drug Enforcement Agents seized 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 resulted in the discovery of 10 pounds of processed marijuana and two semi-automatic assault weapons.

Darlene and James F. Ford 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.

James F. Ford pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing 100 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to previously published reports, 33-year-old Paul Ford of Swanville pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants at his parents' Monroe property and manufacturing 50 or more plants at his home in Swanville. Paul Ford entered his guilty plea in May.

His 36-year-old brother, James T. Ford, of Monroe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing 100 or more marijuana plants and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in December 2012.

Both Darlene and James F. Ford have remained free on bail while awaiting trial.

In September, Darlene Ford's trial moved ahead as scheduled, but after a jury spent nine hours in deliberation and was unable to reach a verdict, Justice Woodcock declared a mistrial. Within days, the court decided to retry Darlene Ford, and court records show that trial will begin next month.

The Fords were arraigned after a federal grand jury indicted the family in September 2012. 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.

The court record does not indicate when James F. Ford will be sentenced, but stated he was remanded into the custody of United States Marshals following the conclusion of the three-day trial. Ford had previously been free on bail in the two years leading up to his trial.