The long, twisted tale of Operation Fortune Cookie -- the state's biggest indoor weed bust, which went to pot once a snitch spilled the beans to the drug ring about the investigation and the law-enforcement agencies that were involved imploded -- was slated to wrap up this week. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel was scheduled to sentence Dan Tang, a prominent Thornton restaurateur who authorities fingered as the drug ring's kingpin.
But everyone's going to have to wait a bit longer to find out Tang's fate. Tang's lawyers have been allowed to reschedule the sentencing hearing for Thursday, March 25 at 9:30 a.m., so they can have a longer, four-hour hearing time to argue on their client's behalf before Daniel makes his decision. According to court records, the presentation will include testimony from David Kan, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist from San Francisco.
"It's to show Dan's background," says Gene Ciancio, one of Tang's lawyers. "It's more of an attempt to show his social history. That's the best way in our opinion of doing it."
More than year after the drug bust, U.S. prosecutors charged Tang, the last of 21 people to be prosecuted in the investigation, with a single count of money laundering, and at a November hearing he pleaded guilty to the crime in exchange for the feds recommending he receive only eleven to thirty months of prison time or probation, considerably less than the seventy to 87 months indicated by the advisory sentencing guidelines. The plea deal may be ruffling feathers behind the scenes; extensive investigation documents obtained by Westword indicated that Operation Fortune Cookie investigators believed Tang had much more involvement in the drug ring than money laundering.
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Will the longer hearing make a difference? Will good fortune once again smile on Tang? Considering the convoluted back story of Operation Fortune Cookie, what happens next is anybody's guess.