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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of California
Stephanie M. Hinds, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, July 15, 2022

Second Man Pleads Guilty in Marijuana Grow Burglary That Sparked a Gun Battle

Defendant Shot In Ankle During Shootout And Apprehended After High-Speed Crash

SAN FRANCISCO – Joevonne Ralls pleaded guilty today in federal court to attempted possession of marijuana plants with the intent to sell them, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman, and United States Marshal Service Acting United States Marshal Mark Kolc. 

Ralls, 25, a resident of Oakland, entered a plea agreement as part of his guilty plea today that described his attempted theft of marijuana plants from a warehouse grow in Richmond during the late evening of August 1 and early morning hours of August 2, 2017. Ralls admitted in the plea agreement that he and two others broke into a Richmond warehouse containing a large marijuana grow. They cut down 200 marijuana plants and stuffed the plants into trash bags, intending to sell the plants later. As the three carried the bags outside to a waiting vehicle, a car pulled up on the street outside of the warehouse’s gate. Its occupants began shooting at them. Ralls described in his plea agreement that he was shot in the ankle and ran back into the warehouse’s garage. He admitted that one of his associates fired shots from the garage back towards the street. Ralls described in his plea agreement that he then drove away in a black Honda with an associate, and Richmond police officers pursued them. Ralls admitted that he eventually crashed the Honda in Albany after striking a curb at a high speed, and he was arrested at the crash scene. According to the plea agreement, officers opened the Honda’s trunk and found a black trash bag full of stolen marijuana plants. 

On May 12, 2022, Vernell Thrower, who was a co-defendant of Ralls in this case, also admitted to participating in the attempted marijuana theft and to firing two shots from the warehouse’s garage during the shootout. Thrower was sentenced to 80 months in federal prison. 

Ralls is now scheduled for a sentencing hearing before United States District Judge Charles R. Breyer in San Francisco federal court on October 19, 2022. Ralls remains out of custody pending his sentencing hearing. 

Ralls pleaded guilty to one count of attempted possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute it in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). He faces maximum statutory penalties of 20 years imprisonment, a life term of supervised release, and a $1,000,000 fine. However, any sentence following a conviction is imposed by a court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Daniel Pastor is the Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case with the assistance of Andy Ding and Helen Yee. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the United States Marshals Service, with the assistance of the Oakland Police Department, Richmond Police Department, and the San Francisco Police Department. 


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