Bakersfield building owner pays government $1.6 million for marijuana activity

FRESNO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The owner of two commercial office buildings in Bakersfield has paid $1.6 million to the federal government to resolve claims the buildings housed marijuana retail stores and large-scale indoor cultivation operations.

Federal prosecutors said Friday that Nedeljko "Ned" Strizak, the owner of properties on the 4100 and 4700 blocks of Easton Drive, leased several suites to the operators of a marijuana store. He also operated his own pot shop.

Strizak also leased space for and operated his own large-scale indoor marijuana cultivation operation.

The shops at the location, American Green Farmers and Botanica Collective, sold marijuana for profit, prosecutors said.

"Whether the individuals involved cultivate marijuana, or distribute marijuana, or sell marijuana, or knowingly lease premises to conduct such activities, or, as in this case, do all of the above - the United States, in partnership with local law enforcement, remains firmly committed to pursuing large-scale commercial marijuana enterprises whose primary goal is the reaping of vast profits," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner in a news release.