Former trooper gets 5 years on drug charges - - Columbia, South Carolina

Former trooper gets 5 years on drug charges

Kurt Steffen (Source: WCSC) Kurt Steffen (Source: WCSC)

CHARLESTON, SC (WIS) - A former South Carolina state trooper who admitted to transporting marijuana in his patrol vehicle was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday.

United States Attorney Bill Nettles said that Kurt Steffen, 30, of Summerville was sentenced for manufacturing and possessing with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants.

Senior United States District Judge C. Weston Houck sentenced Steffen to 60 months imprisonment to be followed by 4 years supervised release.

Nettles said evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Steffen was part of a large scale indoor marijuana growing operation while employed as a state trooper with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. 

Steffen was hired by the South Carolina Highway Patrol in May 2007 and graduated from the South Carolina Police Academy in November 2007. 

Some time thereafter, Steffen, along with others, decided to begin a large scale marijuana growing operation in order to make more money, prosecutors said. 

Nettles said Steffen purchased a five-acre tract of land in Ridgeville, SC, in May 2008, which would serve as the location for the marijuana grow. 

Prior to the grow being discovered by the Dorchester County Metro Narcotic's Unit in January 2010, the operation yielded multiple harvests of marijuana for Steffen and his co-defendants, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of profit for the group, Nettles said. 

When deputies executed a search warrant on the property in January 2010, they found thousands of dollars worth of equipment and over 300 marijuana plants spread throughout three different structures on the property.

During his change of plea hearing, Steffen specifically admitted to transporting marijuana in his South Carolina Highway Patrol vehicle.  He also agreed to forfeit his interest in the Ridgeville property to the federal government. 

Steffen was facing five to 40 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5 million to be followed by a minimum of four years supervised release.

The case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, and the Summerville Police Department.

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