Two Providence men charged by way of federal criminal complaints appeared in U.S. District Court in Providence today in connection with an ongoing FBI investigation into an alleged large scale indoor marijuana growing operation inside a converted mill building at 725 Branch Avenue in Providence and inside a Providence residence, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI, Michael Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England Field Division and Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.
On Wednesday, FBI agents, assisted by DEA agents and members of the Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police Department, executed nine federal court authorized search warrants in and around 725 Branch Avenue in Providence where it is alleged that law enforcement discovered approximately 1,400 marijuana plants in various stages of growth inside numerous otherwise vacant apartments and offices inside the converted mill building.
A tenth federal search warrant was executed at a Providence residence at 60 Valley Street where agents and officers allegedly discovered approximately 100 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.
Also seized by law enforcement was a .22 caliber firearm and ammunition, and approximately $14,000 in cash.
Richard L. Yang, 35, was released to home confinement and electronic monitoring by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond following his initial appearance in federal court on charges of manufacturing over 100 marijuana plants and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.
William L. Ricci, 69, the owner and a resident of the 725 Branch Avenue facility, was released by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond following his initial appearance on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A third defendant has been arrested and charged in state court in connection with the investigation.
The matter is being prosecuted in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.