More than 1,400 plants seized during FBI led raid of former Providence mill building
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Richard A. Yang, 36, of Providence, pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence today to participating in conspiracies to operate large-scale marijuana grow facilities inside a converted Providence mill building. Yang is one of eight individuals charged in February 2016 by way of a federal superseding indictment for participating in conspiracies to operate marijuana grow facilities inside the former mill building.
Yang’s guilty plea is announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI, Michael Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s New England Field Division, Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell,Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, and Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.
On August 13, 2015, FBI agents, assisted by DEA agents, Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police, executed nine federal court authorized search warrants in and around 725 Branch Avenue. Approximately 1,400 marijuana plants in various stages of growth were discovered inside numerous otherwise vacant apartments and offices. A tenth federal search warrant was executed at a Providence residence at 60 Valley Street in Providence where law enforcement seized approximately 100 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, Yang admitted to the court that between December 2012 and August 2015, he conspired with others to operate large-scale marijuana grow facilities inside two rooms of the Branch Avenue building. Law enforcement seized 884 marijuana plants in various stage of growth and 35 kilograms of harvested marijuana from Yang’s operations.
Yang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture over 100 marijuana plants and manufacture of over 100 marijuana plants. He faces statutory penalties of between 5 years and 40 years imprisonment when he is sentenced on September 23, 2016, by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith. Yang is also required to forfeit $20,000 to the government prior to imposition of sentence.
Additionally, during a search of the building at 725 Branch Avenue, law enforcement seized a .22 caliber firearm from an area occupied by the owner of the building, William L. Ricci, 69. Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on March 11, 2016, Ricci pleaded guilty to manufacturing and storing marijuana, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Ricci is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2016.
The cases in this matter are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.