RACINE — A disabled man pleaded guilty to reduced charges in court Thursday after he was allegedly found to be running a marijuana trafficking operation out of his Town of Waterford home.
Joseph Mucha, 25, of the 6300 block of North River Bay Road, was originally charged with felony counts of possession with intent to deliver or manufacture THC (amount between 200 and 1,000 grams), maintaining a drug trafficking place and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia charge.
The charges stem from an April 25 search in which Racine Metro Drug Unit officers reportedly found $60,223 in cash, 1½ pounds of marijuana and more than a dozen wax “marijuana dabs” in the Mucha residence.
His parents, Pamela and James Mucha, were also charged with maintaining a drug trafficking house, as a party to a crime. But the charges against Mucha’s parents were also dismissed as part of the agreement.
Racine County Circuit Judge Mark Nielsen sentenced Joseph Mucha to pay $500 fines for each of the three charges, plus court costs. Mucha will not serve jail time or be on probation following the sentencing.
“I understand there is a debate about marijuana ... if you disagree with the current state of the law in the State of Wisconsin, write our Legislature,” Nielsen said. “If you are using it (marijuana) for medicinal purposes, you would have the court’s sympathy. You were using 7 grams of it a week, arguably for medicinal purposes. They caught you with 100 times that and records indicating a lot more.”
Assistant Racine County District Attorney Jennifer Tanck-Adams presented a plea agreement in which Mucha would plead guilty to reduced charges. In return, he would forfeit the more than $60,000 found in his home and pay a $1,000 fine for all three charges, as well as court costs.
“The money is part of a civil forfeiture case that is separate from the criminal case,” District Attorney Tricia Hanson said in an email to The Journal Times. That case is still pending.
“I’m very sorry that I put everyone through this, especially my parents,” Joseph Mucha said. “I feel terrible about that. I put myself in a bad situation. I really feel bad.”
The defense asked the judge to consider $100 in fines on each of the three counts, plus court costs.
“As the court is aware, his parents were charged out of this,” Cafferty said. “So he caused his family a great deal of stress and angst — he’s embarrassed by that.”
In the end, Nielsen admitted he would follow the guideline of both the state and defense.
“Mr. Mucha, I’m going to pretty much follow along with what’s been recommended here,” Nielsen said. “I’ll tell you, with some degree of reluctance.”
Drugs, cash & paraphernalia found
When officers arrived on April 25, Joseph, who uses a wheelchair, reportedly told them that much of the marijuana found in the home had been shipped in from Colorado, California and Oregon, and that he reportedly said he knew he was going to get caught eventually.
He added that his parents had no involvement in the operation, which included having the drugs shipped to his home and the homes of his friends.
Based on the strong odor of marijuana in the home and drug paraphernalia, such as scales and packaging materials located in common areas, officers found that to be unlikely, the criminal complaint states.
In addition to the drugs and cash, investigators also uncovered a pistol conversion kit and UPS tracking receipts from Colorado, according to the complaint.
Joseph was reportedly seen using the internet to live-stream video of the search as it took place. An officer unplugged the computer after he heard people making comments, the complaint states.
“He has clearly learned his lesson here and the forfeiture of the significant amount of money, along with the convictions, is dramatic punishment, and both the state and I are in agreement that this is a fair way to resolve the case and we would ask the court to approve it,” Cafferty said.”