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  1. buseman
    MADISON, Wis. -- The case against two men accused of running a large marijuana grow operation in Madison has moved into federal court.

    Curtis Faustich, 23, has pleaded guilty to federal charges against him including "knowingly and intentionally" manufacturing marijuana.

    He's scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 25. He faces between five and 40 years in federal prison and up to a $2 million fine.

    Upon his release, he'll be under mandatory supervised release for at least four years, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman. Co-defendant Zachary Czerkas is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 27.

    The drug bust occurred on the city's East Side, in the Secret Places neighborhood, a quiet neighborhood near McFarland.

    Police say a citizen tip of drug activity led them to the home, and after two weeks of investigation, they obtained a search warrant.

    Madison police, working with the Dane County Narcotics & Gang Task Force, executed a search warrant at a home in the 7400 block of Bellingrath Street on April 13.

    Authorities said officers found a marijuana grow operation that covered nearly the entire 1,500-square-foot basement. Officers seized 628 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of between $1 million and $3 million, according to the Madison Police Department.

    Police said grow equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars was also confiscated, as was $5,000 in cash.

    Madison police called it one of the largest marijuana busts in recent memory.

    July 20, 2010


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