CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A former state trooper from Summerville was sentenced on Monday in federal court for manufacturing and possessing with intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants.
Senior United States District Judge C. Weston Houck sentenced 30-year-old Kurt Steffen to 60 months imprisonment to be followed by four years supervised release.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Steffen was part of a large scale indoor marijuana growing operation while working 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. Federal officials say some time thereafter, Steffen, along with others, decided to begin a large scale marijuana growing operation in order to make more money.
Authorities say on May 2008, Steffen purchased property on Stable Lane in Ridgeville, which would serve as the location for the marijuana grow.
According to federal officials, before the grow was 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.
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 300 Stable Lane to the federal government.