A Westlake Village man has been sentenced to a six-year prison term for selling chemicals used in the manufacture of illegal drugs.
U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall imposed the sentence Monday on Burton W. Farrell, 58, owner of three Chemical Shed stores.
In April, Farrell pleaded guilty to one count each of income tax evasion, conspiring to aid in the manufacture of illegal drugs and running a business through a pattern of racketeering. He was ordered to start serving the term July 9 at an institution to be designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Farrell, who could have received a 20-year sentence on the racketeering count, will be eligible for parole in two years, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. John L. Kuray.
As part of a plea agreement, Farrell forfeited his three chemical supply stores--in Canoga Park, Ventura and San Bernardino--as well as his $650,000 home, stocks and bonds, and seven vehicles, including Cadillacs owned by him and his wife. Kuray said the value of all the forfeited property will be about $3 million when the bonds mature.
Price of Drug Doubled
Authorities said Farrell's operation was so immense that the price of the hallucinogen phencyclidine, or PCP, doubled in Los Angeles after he went out of business.
Police and federal drug agents also said Farrell became the nation's largest wholesale buyer of five-gallon containers of ether, a necessary item in the manufacture of some illegal drugs.
The sentencing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles came after defense attorney Brendan O'Neill called for probation without imprisonment for Farrell, who O'Neill said has been "crushed under the weight" of legal and health problems.
Farrell suffers from diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and prison could shorten his life, O'Neill said.
"The man is in a pitiful, pitiful state, both emotionally and medically," he said. "I think Mr. Farrell has been punished enough."
Kuray recommended a 10-year sentence for Farrell, who Kuray said had lived in luxury by promoting the spread of illegal drugs such as PCP.
Prosecutors said that, besides legitimate business, Farrell supplied chemicals to area drug laboratories, asking no questions of customers who paid cash.