Marijuana grower gets 12 years
Edward Holland - convicted in 1991 in a major marijuana case - later ran a large-scale marijuana-growing operation on Kauai and wound up facing mandatory life in prison.
But he was sentenced to only 12 years in prison Monday because he has cooperated with authorities with information about other drug dealers.
His attorney, David Bettencourt, said he won't be able to return to Kauai because of the dangers he faces because of assistance provided to law enforcement.
Holland, 56, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the seizure of 5,922 marijuana plants on state land on Kauai last year - the largest outdoor marijuana-growing operation ever prosecuted in Hawaii.
The amount of drugs involved triggered the mandatory life prison term, but U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright said he sentenced Holland to less because of his substantial cooperation with law enforcement in his own case and others. He mentioned the convictions of other marijuana growers in state court and of a U.S. Postal Service clerk who provided Holland with sensitive information.
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent also told Seabright that Holland has provided information about cocaine and heroin distribution operations in Hawaii, which the agent said is promising.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara had recommended Holland serve 18 years in prison.
Bettencourt said his client's ex-wife was assaulted because of Holland's cooperation and a man was assaulted in a federal halfway house because the perpetrators mistakenly believed he was related to Holland.
Seabright sentenced Holland's two adult sons, his daughter-in-law and another man earlier this year for their involvement in the growing operation.
He sentenced Holland's son Ryan Edward Bihm to three months in prison; son Robert Jason Bihm to 24 months in prison; Robert's wife, Melissa Bihm, to 18 months in prison; and Mark Steven Darling to 40 months in prison.
Prosecutors identified Holland as the leader of the operation.
Federal and state law enforcement officials observed and captured on videotape the five defendants cultivating, harvesting and smoking marijuana about a mile past the end of Kuamoo Road at the base of Mount Waialeale. Officials estimated the street value of the seized marijuana at $5.9 million.
Holland spent four years in prison for a 1991 conviction for possessing 97 pounds of marijuana and for mailing 2,242 grams.