A Sparta man charged with running a large-scale marijuana trafficking operation over a three-year span pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony drug charge.
Corydon Drake, 38, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit manufacture or delivery of more than 10,000 grams of THC during his preliminary hearing in La Crosse County Circuit Court. He remains free on a $10,000 cash bond.
A man who came forward in October because he feared for his life told authorities he stored large amounts of marijuana for Drake in his basement until someone stole 20 to 30 pounds of the drug worth $43,890 from his house in late September, according to the criminal complaint.
In the first four months of last year, he said, he received hundreds of pounds of pot from Drake, who he estimated trafficked in 500 pounds total from Colorado during the period in which he worked for him, the complaint stated.
At least three times, he deposited drug profits into Drake’s bank account and twice drove $30,000 to Colorado, where he said Drake owns three homes with basement marijuana growing operations.
On Nov. 6, Drake ordered the man to pick up drug proceeds from Cazzie Marnach, 38, of Onalaska. Under police surveillance, Marnach gave him $38,422.29, according to the complaint.
Investigators the next day followed the man to one of Drake’s houses in Brighton, Colo., where he gave Drake the cash, the complaint stated.
Authorities on Jan. 3 searched a garage rented by Marnach at 1412 Caledonia St., where they found 26 pounds of marijuana and hash wax and $8,000.
Marnach stood mute Jan. 11 to conspiracy to commit delivery of more than 10,000 grams of THC in his third marijuana delivery case. In a 1998 case, he was placed on probation and later sent to prison when it was revoked. He also was placed on probation in a 2010 case.
In May 2016, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police intercepted a UPS package containing four pounds of marijuana and 80 small containers of hash wax shipped from Oregon to West Salem.
Detectives delivered the box to Amy Kneesel at 111 N. Mill St. Kneesel told authorities that Drake once before mailed marijuana to her house from a dispensary.
Flight records place Drake in Oregon at the time the package was shipped, and Drake is on surveillance video at a UPS store sending the box, Tom Johnson, investigative coordinator for the West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group, testified Tuesday.
Prosecutors in April charged Drake with conspiracy to deliver more than 1,000 grams of THC. He was freed on a signature bond.