Accused marijuana grower pleads guilty to conspiracy charges

COURT DOCUMENT IMAGE | A photo taken during a 2013 raid of an Osborn Avenue property shows dozens of marijuana plants in the garage of Edward Dispirito, police say. Mr. Dispirito pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges this month.
Police raided Edward Dispirito’s property on Osborne Avenue in 2013 and found dozens of marijuana plants in the garage. (Credit: Federal court document)

A Riverhead man accused of growing roughly $3.8 million worth of marijuana at his Osborn Avenue property has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and is expected to forfeit $13.6 million in assets, according to court documents.

Edward Dispirito, 70, pleaded guilty Aug. 7 in Eastern District Court in Central Islip to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder money, according to court documents.

Both charges carry maximum sentences of 10 years to life in prison. His lawyer, Patrick Broderick of Hauppauge, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Two charges for marijuana possession with “intent to distribute” were dropped as part of the plea deal, court records show.

Mr. Dispirito, described by his attorney as a self-employed garbage contractor, has agreed give up items seized during the raid on his property last October, including the house used for the marijuana growing operation and a 2007 Ford Mustang.

The government is planning to sell the items and property to cover the forfeiture.

Suffolk County police and federal agents found grow lamps, dry tables and nearly 1,700 marijuana plants during the drug bust on Oct. 1, 2013 at the two-story Osborn Avenue home, prosecutors said.

In addition, investigators said Mr. Dispirito used a device to siphon about $250,000 in electricity from LIPA.

Mr. Broderick had disputed how much marijuana authorities uncovered at his client’s house, as well as the importance of the case.

“It’s a marijuana grow house,” he said during the arraignment last October. “There’s not a county in this country that doesn’t have a grow house.”

Court testimony by an investigator in the case revealed a complex surveillance effort to arrest Mr. Dispirito and his alleged distributor, 55-year-old James Ford of Seaford.

The case against Mr. Ford — who’s facing the same federal offenses as Mr. Dispirito — is still pending, according to court documents.

Mr. Dispirito has until his scheduled sentencing date on Dec. 8 to pay the forfeited total, according to court documents.

Click right side of column below to advance timeline ↘