'Godfather of Grass' pleads guilty to drug charge

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — 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.

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