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Saturday, August 7, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Businessman Gets 20 Years After Record Hashish Seizure

SAN FRANCISCO - A Canadian businessman was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison yesterday in connection with the seizure of a record haul of hashish at sea.

Michael Medjuck, 43, of Vancouver, B.C., pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to smuggle 2.4 tons of hashish. The case involved 70 tons of hashish, most of it found on a freighter in the Pacific in July 1991. Prosecutors said it was the largest hashish seizure in U.S. history.

Medjuck has also agreed to forfeit more than $2 million if he loses an appeal of a legal issue in the case, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lew Davis.

That issue involves a defense claim that the United States lacked jurisdiction over the case because the drugs were allegedly destined for Canada. Medjuck reserved the right to appeal the issue when he pleaded guilty.

The plea agreement called for a recommended prison sentence of 20 to 25 years. Davis said prosecutors recommended 20 years after concluding Medjuck had made a truthful disclosure of his assets. U.S. District Judge Eugene Lynch accepted the recommendation.

Davis said Medjuck's guilty plea acknowledged he was the head of an organization responsible for planning the offload of 2.4 tons of hashish.

"His responsibilities included financing offload operation out of his own funds and hiring another person to locate and hire an offload vessel and captain to meet a mother ship in the Pacific," according to the guilty plea, Davis said.

Sixteen other people have pleaded guilty to related charges, 15 in Hawaii and one in San Francisco. Four other defendants are awaiting trial.

Medjuck's case gained notoriety in November 1991 when, after being denied bail, he asked to be kept in a private 29th-floor apartment suite rather than a jail cell while awaiting trial. He said he would pay for private guards around the clock, have his phone calls monitored and wear a transmitting device to keep track of his movements. Lynch turned him down.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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