St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Man guilty of farming pot

Herbert Ferrell Jr. created huge indoor marijuana farms in nice neighborhoods around the Tampa Bay area.

Published August 23, 2006

TAMPA - After deliberating for nearly four hours, jurors found Tampa businessman Herbert Ferrell Jr. guilty of conspiracy in a scheme to grow marijuana in some of Tampa Bay's nicest neighborhoods.

Ferrell, 54, faces a minimum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 6. He was one of 11 people arrested in December and accused of creating huge indoor marijuana farms in more than 10 houses and apartments in the Tampa Bay area.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Porcelli said the defendants selected big homes in nice neighborhoods to avoid suspicion.

Ferrell was the only defendant to go to trial; the others pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Joseph Bodiford, Ferrell's attorney, said his client was very disappointed by the verdict.

"He's always felt 100 percent like he was being set up, from the moment I met him to this morning as we were waiting for the verdict in my office," Bodiford said.

But juror Patrick Healey, 37, said they couldn't overlook the hours and hours of tape made by government informants. Ferrell can be heard discussing the grow houses in minute detail in many of the tapes.

"Mr. Ferrell had the intention," Healey said. "His intentions were clear."


© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.