2 years in federal prison for marijuana grower
ALBANY A former Saratoga County businessman was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison on his earlier guilty plea to growing marijuana in a Wilton storage unit, authorities said.
William M. Laisdell, 41, of River Crest Road, Moreau, pleaded guilty in December 2011 to one count of manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants. He had been accused of possessing nearly 900 marijuana plants in the storage unit, which were uncovered in an October 2011 raid.
His attorney in a filing asked for leniency in the sentencing, saying that Laisdell turned to growing marijuana to support his family after his business started to fail because of the economy.
“This is in no way an excuse. Mr. Laisdell regrets his decision and knows that no outside force is responsible,” his attorney James Long wrote in his sentencing memorandum filed earlier this month.
Long identifies Laisdell as a founder and owner of Timber & Stone, which employed 25 workers in 2006 and 2007. The current status and location of the business was not cited, though Long notes that Laisdell’s wife has been working to rebuild it.
He asked Judge Mae A. D’Agostino for a sentence of as little as community supervision, or a brief period of incarceration, citing Laisdell’s family considerations, including a special-needs child.
“The self-imposed pressure to maintain a home for his family, and other life expenses,” Long wrote, “left Mr. Laisdell depressed and fearful that the worst was still to come. He decided to grow marijuana as a way to mitigate the losses suffered by his legitimate business.”
Laisdell faced up to 40 years in federal prison, but was expected to get five years or less. Prosecutors recommended a range of 37 to 46 months.
Laisdell was arrested in October 2011, accused of possessing a total of 852 recently harvested marijuana stems inside two adjoining storage units on Commerce Park Drive in Wilton, according to papers filed in court earlier. Also inside the units was equipment used for the marijuana-growing operation.
Each of the recovered stems appeared to have been recently clipped or harvested. Each also still had the root ball attached, according to papers.
Immediately prior to the October 2011 raid, investigators with the Capital District Drug Enforcement Task Force, including Drug Enforcement Administration Officer Terry Markham, interviewed Laisdell. He admitted to running the pot-growing operation and that he harvested or clipped the plants 10 days earlier.
Investigators also raided Laisdell’s Moreau residence and found $14,319 in cash. He admitted to possessing the cash in a safe there.