Johnston Co. lawyer charged in marijuana-growing operation

Joseph Lee Levinson

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A federal indictment accuses a Johnston County attorney and others of growing marijuana for profit at “grow houses” in Orange County and concealing the profits.

The indictment said Joseph Lee Levinson, who works at a law office in Benson and in Raleigh, received cash and drugs as payment during the operation.

According to the indictment, Aubrey Manasseh Pruitt, Dustin Garrett Fisher and Jotham Walker Pruitt operated a marijuana “grow” business in Orange County from December 2005 to around December 2010. The indictment lists six different houses that were used to grow marijuana indoors.

The operation was funded by several investors, the government claims, and Levinson took $10,000 from those investors for himself.

The indictment also said Levinson used his law office to help with the fraudulent paperwork needed to get the “grow homes”.

It said Fisher grew the marijuana in the houses obtained by Levinson and Jotham Pruitt.

They were purchased ostensibly as rental homes, but the true nature of the houses was concealed from the banks when loans were obtained, the government said.

Investigators say the men generated close to $2 million in cash. They say the plan was to use the drug profits to pay for materials and the mortgages on the houses.

The indictment says the group used a company called Ramses Investments as a front to conceal the funds and promote the drug operation.

Levinson is set to appear in the U.S. courthouse in Winston-Salem on Jan. 6 at 9:30 a.m.

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