Pot grower sentenced

Former Bruce Crossing resident draws nearly 13 years; 6 others sentenced in case

Interior of the greenhouse at Ward's Farm in Bruce Crossing in the summer of 2015.

MARQUETTE — A former Bruce Crossing man, who was the head of a marijuana operation spanning the western and central Upper Peninsula, has been sentenced to 12 years, 7 months in federal prison.

In addition to the sentence, Spencer Troy Ward, 56, was ordered to pay the government nearly $500,000 and forfeit his 80-acre farm in Bruce Crossing for his involvement in a marijuana production and distribution conspiracy that Ward led in Ontonagon, Iron and Marquette counties, according to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney — Western District of Michigan office.

In relation to the case, several others were convicted and will serve terms ranging from 30 months to 4 months in federal prison. Those sentenced include Sharon Marie Peltola, 54, formerly of Bruce Crossing; Robert Harley Stapleton, 29, formerly of Gwinn; Craig Robert Asikainen, 38, formerly of Ishpeming; Byron Hugh Adams, 41, formerly of Ewen; Tracy Eve LaMarch, 39, formerly of Gladstone; and Peter John Jousma, no age provided, formerly of Bruce Crossing.

Ward and his associates were growing marijuana at his farm and operating marijuana stores in Watersmeet, Iron River and Marquette, the release states.

Ward also had plans to open another marijuana store in Houghton.

A search warrant executed on Ward’s farm in February 2016 found a large-scale sophisticated grow operation that contained 186 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, and more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana.

The investigation started in 2014 when Ward came to the attention of detectives from the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team, the Bureau of Indan Affairs and the Lac Vieux Desert reservation near Watersmeet.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney, said Ward’s prior conviction for transporting 167 pounds of marijuana in the state of Missouri in 1999 was an aggravating factor in the case.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.