“Godfather of Grass,” outlaw head of the “Cornbread Mafia,” pleads guilty to drug charge

John Robert Boone fled to Canada after a 2008 indictment on federal drug charges in Kentucky, and spent eight years on the run

Published: Dec 20, 2017, 2:31 pm

By Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The “Godfather of Grass” — who generated an Internet following for his exploits during his run from the law — is facing prison time after admitting his involvement in a marijuana operation in rural Kentucky nearly a decade ago.

John Robert “Johnny” Boone pleaded guilty this week in federal court in Louisville to a single count. He’s accused of conspiring to possess, grow and distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants at an operation near Springfield, Kentucky, U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman said Wednesday. Boone watered and fertilized the plants on a farm near his home, prosecutors said.

Boone’s roots in the marijuana business are reputed to run deep. Decades ago, prosecutors said he led a multi-state marijuana operation known as the “Cornbread Mafia.”

His attorney said he was in court and couldn’t immediately comment.

Boone fled to Canada after a 2008 indictment on federal drug charges in Kentucky, and he spent eight years on the loose until his capture in late 2016. Canadian officials turned him over to U.S. authorities, and Boone was returned to Kentucky to face charges.

As part of his plea agreement, Boone faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing March 15, prosecutors said.

Boone, now in his 70s, was convicted in the 1980s and spent a decade in prison for what prosecutors called a massive marijuana syndicate. They said he was the head of the Cornbread Mafia, which had 29 farms in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin.

Boone was featured on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted,” spurring a Facebook page called Run, Johnny, Run. He has been described as a tattooed Santa Claus.

CONTINUE READING…

James Higdon’s “The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History”

press release

April 16, 2012, 3:57 p.m. EDT

James Higdon’s “The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History” Available This Week

NEW YORK, NY, Apr 16, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — ATTENTION JOURNALISTS AND PRODUCERS: 4/20 — “The Pot Holiday” — is this week! James Higdon is the perfect choice for any conversation about marijuana legalization. Call now to schedule an interview.

In the summer of 1987, Johnny Boone set out to grow and harvest one of the greatest outdoor marijuana crops in modern times. In doing so, he set into motion a series of events that defined him and his associates as the largest homegrown marijuana syndicate in American history, also known as the Cornbread Mafia.

Author James Higdon — whose relationship with Johnny Boone, currently a federal fugitive, made him the first journalist subpoenaed under the Obama administration — takes readers back to the 1970s and ’80s and the clash between federal and local law enforcement and a band of Kentucky farmers with moonshine and pride in their bloodlines. By 1989 the task force assigned to take down men like Johnny Boone had arrested sixty-nine men and one woman from busts on twenty-nine farms in ten states, and seized two hundred tons of pot. Of the seventy individuals arrested, zero talked. How it all went down is a tale of Mafia-style storylines emanating from the Bluegrass State, and populated by Vietnam veterans and weed-loving characters caught up in Tarantino-level violence and heartbreaking altruism. This work of dogged investigative journalism and history is told by Higdon in action-packed, colorful and riveting detail.

“James Higdon has written a compelling, fast-moving saga about how a backwoods band of outlaws, begat by Kentucky moonshiners of the 1920s, took over the marijuana business in the Midwest and led the Feds on the biggest pot chase in American history.” –Bruce Porter, author of BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All

James Higdon has worked for the Courier-Journal in Louisville and the New York Times, contributed to The Prairie Home Companion, researched the NYPD counter-terrorism and intelligence divisions for the new CBS series NYC 22 (produced by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal), and is currently a contributing editor with PBS Frontline’s Tehran Bureau.

The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History Lyons Press – April 2012 – Cloth — 400 pages – $24.95 – ISBN-13: 978-0762778232

        
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SOURCE: Globe Pequot Press