A marijuana plant grows at a Minnesota Medical Solutions greenhouse in Otsego, Minn., in May 2015. (Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune file via AP)

80-year-old pot dealer with wild life story gets 10 years in prison

Marshall Dion's decades-long marijuana dealing in several states includes his survival of a plane crash in 1985 that left thousands in cash floating in the air

BOSTON — An 80-year-old man who ran a sprawling marijuana-dealing operation that covered several states, with records going back to 1992, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Marshall Dion pleaded guilty last year to drug and money-laundering charges, and Tuesday’s sentencing in Massachusetts was the latest chapter in a long, colorful history with law enforcement.

In 1985, he crashed a single-engine plane he was piloting in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, breaking both his ankles. When sheriff deputies arrived, he was crawling along a muddy field as money floated in the air. The government was allowed to keep nearly $112,000 in cash recovered from the crash scene after a judge found it was likely drug proceeds, but Dion was not charged criminally.

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Marshall Dion, shown in a 2013 booking photo. (Junction City (Kan.) Police Department via AP)

When police in Junction City, Kansas, stopped him for speeding in 2013, they found about $828,000 in cash in his pickup truck. A federal investigation led authorities to Massachusetts and Arizona, where they found about $15 million in cash, nearly 400 pounds of marijuana and ledgers detailing drug deals going back to 1992.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper rejected a plea agreement that called for a five- to seven-year prison sentence for Dion. His lawyers then reached a new agreement with prosecutors that called for a sentence range of five to 10 years. Judge Denise Casper sentenced him to the maximum during a hearing in U.S. District Court.

Dion has been in custody since his arrest in 2013, so he has already served 2 1/2 years of his sentence. He declined to address the court during his sentencing hearing.

Dion’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, recommended a five-year sentence. He said Dion was nonviolent and lived a simple life, despite the large quantities of cash his business made.

“He didn’t have that lure of greed and power and oppression. He is a simple man who lived a very routine and habit-filled life,” Brennan said after the hearing.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of a little over six years. A spokeswoman for prosecutors did not immediately return a call seeking comment.