1004219647 Philip Semper background.jpg
Philip Semper

Man sentenced to probation in $428k pot thefts

A Shady Cove man avoided prison Friday after admitting to his role in a pair of marijuana theft cases, one of which involved the bulk of a licensed marijuana farm’s first-year harvest and losses well into the six figures.

Philip Adrian Semper, 32, was sentenced to probation in Jackson County Circuit Court after admitting to being part of a burglary ring that took hundreds of pounds of cannabis from a licensed marijuana grower outside Eagle Point, and felony assault for striking an employee with his vehicle during a marijuana warehouse burglary outside Ashland.

Semper was ordered to repay $428,799.97 in restitution after pleading guilty to felony burglary and aggravated theft charges, admitting he took more than 250 pounds of cannabis the night of April 7, 2017, during a burglary at Dicot Farm, in the 8400 block of Butte Falls Highway.

Three others with pending aggravated theft cases and one co-suspect already in prison are also on the hook for the restitution figure, according to court records.

Dicot Farm owner Alan Kamden said he’s discouraged at the prospect they’ll ever recoup their loss, which he described as more than 90 percent of his first-year harvest.

“We’re never going to get it back,” Kamden said outside the courthouse.

During the hearing, Kamden said his business is still reeling from the theft. He had to lay off his six employees, halt construction of a planned dispensary in Portland, and a remaining staff member had to sell her condominium to float the business.

“I know the restitution looks high, but there are ongoing damages,” Kamden told Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack, adding, “I’m not the only victim.”

Semper separately pleaded guilty to felony second-degree assault for his role in an April 10 burglary at a warehouse in the 3700 block of Old Highway 99 near Ashland, where he reportedly struck an employee with his SUV while attempting to flee with more than $10,000 worth of cannabis taken from a metal storage container. A co-suspect, Brandon Allen Crum of White City, has pending aggravated theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief charges in the case.

The assault victim did not attend the hearing.

Assault in the second degree normally carries a mandatory-minimum 70-month prison sentence, but the case was moved out of Measure 11 sentencing because the vehicle was not considered a deadly weapon because it had been traveling at low speeds, according to Jason Caplan, Semper’s court-appointed defense lawyer.

Semper faces a 39-month prison sentence if he violates any terms of his five-year probation, according to Caplan, who added that his client has a “serious opiate problem” and a pregnant girlfriend enrolled at OnTrack.

“I hope that Phil is sufficiently scared,” Caplan said.

For Kamden, the outcome was less than satisfying. He expressed frustration at what he saw as the leniency of Semper’s sentence, while earlier in the day, in the same courtroom, another defendant received jail time for riding a bicycle under the influence of intoxicants.

He added that his business is “being held to these higher standards” compared to a liquor store or a pharmacy. The suspects destroyed his security system, he said, requiring Kamden to repair it immediately under OLCC regulations.

Kamden, however, expressed gratitude to Jackson County sheriff’s Detective Jason Penn for his efforts tracking down co-suspects Mitchell Jeffrey King, Hank Sterling Sowell, Tanner Ray Sowell and Jesse Oliver Parker.

Tanner Sowell was sentenced to prison in February for his role in a string of burglaries from fall 2016 through May 2017, which included a jetboat stolen in October 2016, a Case 580 backhoe in March 2017, along with the burglary at Dicot Farm, court records show. Parker and Hank Sowell have pending cases, while King has had a warrant for his arrest since April, court records show.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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