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Canadian Pleads Guilty in Record Hashish Seizure

April 17, 1993|Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A Canadian businessman pleaded guilty Friday to a smuggling conspiracy charge in the seizure of a record 70 tons of hashish at sea.

Michael Medjuck, 43, of Vancouver faces 20 to 25 years in prison. He also agreed to forfeit $1 million and surrender virtually all his remaining assets, said U.S. Atty. John Mendez. Sentencing is scheduled for May 28.

Most of the hashish was seized from a freighter in the Pacific in July, 1991. Mendez said it was the largest hashish seizure in U.S. history. Seven people were arrested.

Defense lawyer John Markham said Medjuck entered the plea while reserving the right to appeal to higher courts that the United States lacked jurisdiction over the case because the drugs were destined for Canada. U.S. District Judge Eugene Lynch has ruled that the prosecution was legal.

Medjuck's case gained notoriety in November, 1991, when, after being denied bail, he asked to be kept in a private 29th-floor apartment suite rather than a jail cell to await trial. He said he would pay for private guards around the clock, have his phone calls monitored and wear a transmitting device to monitor his movements. Lynch turned him down.

Markham said the public got the misimpression that Medjuck was asking to live in a luxury penthouse.

"We wanted to have him stay in a place which was not jail because he was presumed innocent," the lawyer said. "We picked a place which, for reasons of showing that it was escape-proof, we made it the top floor. (In the press,) that became a penthouse."

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