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Elderly Cattaraugus County businessman spared federal prison for marijuana charges

The 77-year-old founder of a Village of Cattaraugus factory who was convicted of operating a massive marijuana-growing business on Mill Street was spared further jail time by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford during his Buffalo sentencing Wednesday.

Joseph Tigano Sr. was ordered to submit to three years of supervised release.

His son, Joseph Tigano III, 51, a prior out-of-state felon who was convicted separately last month in the case, faces a mandatory prison term of at least 20 years and a possible life term and fine of up to $10 million when he is sentenced by Judge Wolford on Aug. 13, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Duszkiewicz said the Tiganos were both arrested during a raid on their factory at 30 Mill Street on July 8, 2008, following an investigation of their suspected multi-million-dollar marijuana business, considered one of the most highly sophisticated pot-growing operations ever uncovered in Western New York.

The 2008 raid on the Tigano hydroponics business involved the seizure of 1,414 marijuana plants and 100 pounds of marijuana already packaged for sale and valued at between $300,000 to $500,000. Along with it were three firearms and $25,000 in cash, money orders and savings bonds, as well as two luxury cars and a trailer used in the business, Duszkiewicz said.

The investigation that led to the closing of the Tigano marijuana empire, Duszkiewicz said, was conducted by the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office, the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, New York State Police, the Erie County Sheriff’s aviation unit, the FBI, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.