A Tulsa man who was arrested in connection with what may have been the biggest pot bust in Tulsa police history was sentenced Wednesday to the equivalent of three days in jail and four months of home confinement.
Kong Meng “Steve” Vang, 36, who was arrested in 2018 with 1,500 pounds of marijuana at a north Tulsa County property, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge John Dowdell to time already served in jail and four months of home confinement.
An attorney for Vang said afterward that he could not comment on the details of sealed motions that were filed in the case, seeking, according to Dowdell, a sentence that did not involve custody.
However, the judge alluded to Vang’s conduct since his arrest in fashioning his sentence.
Dowdell said Vang meets all the criteria to qualify for the “safety valve provision,” a clause in federal sentencing guidelines that permits judges to sentence without regard for the prescribed mandatory minimum term in certain drug cases.
“I don’t think I’ll see you again,” Dowdell told Vang during the sentencing hearing in Tulsa federal court. “You did good things after something bad. I think this is the right thing to do.”
Federal sentencing guidelines called for a crime of Vang’s nature with his criminal history to result in a prison term between three years, five months and four years, three months.
Dowdell agreed with sealed sentencing variance requests that Vang serve a term in the four months to 10 months range. However, Dowdell went even further, sentencing Vang to a term of time already served, which was three days in jail, and ordering four months of home confinement and two years of supervised release.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said prosecutors “respect the decision of the court.”
Todd Tucker, an attorney for Vang, said he could not address the sealed motions’ contents.
“I think a lot of it amounts to the fact that marijuana is legalized in the state of Oklahoma and that the courts are becoming more lenient since you can go down and buy marijuana on the street corner,” Tucker said.
During the hearing Wednesday, Vang apologized “for what I have done.” The father of seven said he was “ashamed of myself.”
Vang was arrested March 24, 2018, in the 6300 block of North Garrison Avenue when law enforcement officials served a search warrant there.
A search of a rental truck at the residence yielded at least 1,500 pounds of hydroponically grown marijuana with a street value of $5 million, authorities said.
Vang served about three days in jail before he was released on an unsecured bond.
Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said at the time that it was the largest marijuana bust he had seen across 50 years with the Tulsa Police Department.
A grand jury indicted Vang on charges of drug conspiracy and possessing at least 100 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute. Prosecutors later added a money-laundering charge.
After Vang’s arrest, federal prosecutors seized various assets controlled by the defendant, including seven residential properties, eight pistols, his automobile repair business — Vang’s Dyno Performance at 9901 E 46th Place — as well as 21 high-performance vehicles.
The seized items were forfeited in a plea agreement in which Vang pleaded guilty in August 2018 to drug conspiracy and money laundering, and the auctioned vehicles resulted in more than $280,000 in proceeds.
Prosecutors claim that Vang led a pot distribution ring that included at least five others.
“Kong Meng Vang chose to transport and deal massive amounts of marijuana in the Tulsa area,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “Now, unsurprisingly, he has been held accountable by the criminal justice system. That is a common path for those who choose to participate in the illegal drug business.”
Shores credited Tulsa police with breaking the case “wide open.”
Shores thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Marshals for dismantling a “multi-state illicit marijuana network.”
Others charged were:
David Mason Leslie Jr., Mayhoula Lee, Tong Moua Vang, aka Bill Vang, Chee Xiong and Steven Tou Thao.
Leslie pleaded guilty in April 2019 to racketeering charges and received a sentence of time served, records show.
Xiong pleaded guilty Oct. 10 to acting to conceal a crime regarding Vang’s plans to bring marijuana from California to Oklahoma.
Xiong admitted in a plea agreement with prosecutors to lying to Arizona police after the two were stopped in January 2018 while traveling in a pickup truck to California so that Vang could buy marijuana.
Xiong was sentenced Thursday to six months supervised release.
Tong Moua Vang, also known as Bill Vang, pleaded guilty April 10 to one count of traveling interstate in aid of a racketeering enterprise. He was sentenced Oct. 10 to one year and one day in federal prison.
Lee has not been arrested while charges against Thao were dismissed.
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