CannaCrime: Two Pot Defendants in Maryland Federal Court, Two Very Different Cases

By Van Smith

Baltimore, Feb. 21, 2019

While Free State Cannablawg’s attempts to ennumerate pending cannabis-crime cases in Maryland’s U.S. District Court remain hopeful (FSC has asked the U.S Attorney’s Office how many there are, so far without response), scouring the public terminals at the Garmatz courthouse has turned up two: one’s an apple, the other an orange.

The apple would be the case of a man who agreed to 12 months’ probation for possessing weed at the Naval Station Norfolk last August, and his supervision was transferred to federal court in his home state of Maryland. If the charge and sentence seem out of step in this day and age of pot liberalization, well, the court record reflects a defendant, Ayodei Ogunlade, who probably agrees.

When Ogunlade tested positive for cannabis, he “admitted to smoking the drug on … the day of sentencing,” U.S. probation officer Christine Hayfron-Benjamin wrote in her report of Ogunlade’s transgressions. By way of explanation, he said “he knew he would be appearing before the court, but he found marijuana in the house before leaving and ‘didn’t want to waste it.'”

Once under Maryland supervision, and despite not receiving required court permission to do so, Ogunlade promptly left the country for a week-long vacation in Cancun, Mexico – and then repeatedly lied to his probation officer about it, denying that he’d gone. Hayfron-Benjamin’s report reflects how he then proceeded to invent a whole suite of changing facts regarding the hospitalization and death of his father-in-law, and his wife’s mourning of it, so as to make excuses for taking the forbidden Cancun vacation.

“This officer,” Hayfron-Benjamin wrote, “encouraged Mr. Ogunlade to be honest and questioned why he refused to be truthful. He responded that he knew that this officer would uncover the truth but couldn’t explain why he continued to be dishonest.”

From FSC’s reading of these facts, Ogunlade seems not to have taken his crime seriously, and so is not adapting well to being punished for it. Not so the second case, the orange to Ogunlade’s apple: Jeffrey Putney.


(Jeffrey Putney, in a photo from prior to his 2010 indictment, courtesy of the U.S. Marshal Service.)

Putney took his pot charges very, very seriously: he went on the run, and remained in hiding for nearly a decade. He’s the last defendant to be adjudicated in a massive Baltimore-based pot and money-laundering conspiracy that was dismantled by federal law enforcers starting in 2010 after operating as a globe-trotting enterprise throughout the 2000s.

While Ogunlade is facing the possibility to being directed to “participate in a cognitive-behavioral program to address his poor decision-making,” according to Hayfron-Benjamin’s report, Putney is likely headed to a long stint in federal prison, possibly approaching the 10-plus years some of his co-defendants are serving.

In the meantime, Putney is being held in detention pending upcoming proceedings in his case, with the latest being the Feb. 15 entry on his docket, described as a “Sealed Document” with an attached exhibit.

FSC looks forward to updating the progress of these vastly different cases, whose sole commonality is cannabis.


CannaCrime: Last Defendant in Decade-Old Maryland Federal Pot Case Arrested in Nevada

By Van Smith

Baltimore, Jan. 29, 2019

Ten years ago, Jeffrey Putney was almost 40 and about to start life on the lam, thanks to his alleged part in a massive coast-to-coast illegal pot conspiracy based in Baltimore. When the chips began to fall in March 2009, Putney, driving his Toyota 4Runner out of Fells Point, unwittingly led law enforcers to the location that blew the case open: 3522 Hickory Ave. in Hampden, where they found evidence of the many, many millions of dollars the enterprise generated and needed to launder. Putney was arrested on Baltimore City charges, released, and disappeared.


(Jeffrey Putney, in a photo taken before he fled federal charges unsealed in 2010, and provided courtesy of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.)

On Jan. 11, Putney reappeared in a federal courtroom in Reno, Nevada, putting an end to his long run as the last remaining fugitive of the federal pot-dealing-and-money-laundering conspiracy led by Matt Nicka, who was picked up in Canada in 2013, not long after another top defendant, David D’Amico, was extradited from Colombia. Nicka, his wife Gretchen Peterson, and D’Amico pleaded guilty and were sentenced in 2016, and Nicka is now serving a 15-year prison sentence.

The case involved 16 defendants in all, and all pleaded guilty except for two: pilot Keegan Leahy and Baltimore nightclub impressario Daniel McIntosh, whom jurors found guilty of some, but not all, of the charges against them. Leahy’s prison term ended in 2015, and McIntosh is scheduled for release in July 2020, according to U.S. Bureau of Prisons records, while another defendant, Anthony Marcantoni is set to be freed a month later. Many of the defendants have already served their sentences and moved on with their lives.

Putney is accused of helping the Nicka conspiracy move quantities of cannabis around, which is exactly what he allegedly was doing when he drove to the Hampden house and dropped off three boxes he’d obtained at Aliceanna and Bond streets in Fells Point from Adam Constantinides, another co-defendant, who was released from his prison stint in 2016. Constantinides, meanwhile, had picked up the boxes at a storage facility on Wilkens Ave. to deliver them to Putney.

“During the surveillance,” investigative documents filed in the case state, “Constantinides and Putney constantly used counter-surveillance techniques, including driving down dead-end streets, making frequent U-turns, and cutting through parking lots.” Testimony at the Leahy-McIntosh trial also described Putney allegedly involved in unloading pot stashed in golf bags from an airplane at Martin Airport in Baltimore County.

After Putney was observed dropping the boxes at the Hickory Ave. house and was arrested, agents got a warrant to search the property and found almost 100 pounds of pot, about 30 cell phones, four money-counters, two scales, $20,000 in cash, money wrappers, drug tally sheets reflecting transactions involving more than $1.5 million, documents about an aircraft purchase, and paperwork about prices and amounts of drugs and the names of customers and suppliers. It was the mother lode that helped break the case, and Putney led them right to it.

FSC discovered the fact of Putney’s recent arrest by chance, while at the Baltimore federal courthouse yesterday searching PACER, the federal court-records database, to see if federal prosecutors in Maryland had any open pot-conspiracy cases on the dockets. It appears they do not, and FSC has asked the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office to confirm that fact and provide any available details about the circumstances of Putney’s arrest. FSC will update when and if new information comes to light.