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Missing pot paycheck leads to alleged assault

A man faces felony charges after he allegedly attacked the owner of a marijuana grow site outside Ashland over unpaid wages and stole an iPod.

Roberto A. Bertiaga, 45, was charged Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court with felony counts of third-degree assault and third-degree robbery. Bertiaga told officers the assault stemmed from a refusal to pay him for a $800 in trimwork at a grow site in the 100 block of Ashland Acres Road, according to a court document filed by Jackson County sheriff’s deputies in the case.

Bertiaga was arrested late Tuesday morning after he was “told he would not be paid,” then resorted to taking property that included an iPod, according to police, in events that led to the physical attack.

The grow site owner pulled out his phone and began recording Bertiaga carrying his property out of his home. Police said the fight ensued after Bertiaga learned he was being recorded.

Bertiaga is accused of taking the man to the ground and choking him. A second employee, Cornelio Cortes-Cortes, 51, allegedly joined in the fight, telling police the grower also owed him $1,000.

Cortes-Cortes was arrested Tuesday, Jackson County Jail records show, but has not been charged in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Another grow site owner, who is pregnant, pulled Cortes-Cortes away and punched him. She “absolutely won the fight,” according to police, knocking Cortes-Cortes to the ground and making him leave before intervening in the dispute involving Bertiaga.

A seven-year-old child witnessed the fight, according to police.

The male grow site owner suffered facial injuries, a bloody cheek and multiple lumps on his head. Bertiaga was not injured in the scuffle, according to police, and after being read his Miranda rights allegedly told police that he was from Panama, and that’s how civil disputes are settled there.

Bertiaga was booked in the jail Tuesday and released Thursday morning on his own recognizance. His next court appearance in the case is set for June 26.

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

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