Fugitive Watch: John Robert Boone, Kentucky's Cornbread Mafia Chief, On The Run Over Pot Farm
Monday, December 6, 2010 at 8:00 am
Boone's fingers have been sticky with his proceeds since the eighties, when he spent a decade in jail as part of what was described at the time as "the largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history," stretching across a string of 29 farms in Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin.
The 67-year old Boone was seen as a patriarchal figure earning nicknames such as the 'Godfather of Grass" and the "King of Pot." He led a group called the Cornbread Mafia -- which sounds like something for which Garrison Keillor owns the trademark. Boone was among more than 70 people from Kentucky arrested and 182 tons of marijuana was seized.
We believe the greatest pain was felt by Kentucky fans of Phish and Widespread Panic who listened to the music for the first time sober and became quite concerned that those Drug Free America commercials about your brains over easy with toast might be right.
According to one report, Boone was credited by peers with the outlandish innovation of separating male and female plants to "increase potency." (If true, it's like confessing your model-T started running much better once you put gas in it. Then again, Kentucky's the kind of place where Members Only jackets still seem exclusive.)
Considered by many in the impoverished region as just another farmer -- who besides corn has some icky sticky in the back barn -- the Feds have made little headway in trying to capture him. Boone faces life in prison under federal three-strikes guidelines (two prior pot-growing convictions), but no one's betrayed his confidence -- if indeed he is still in the area. They say he has contacts in Central America and may have escaped across the border. Meanwhile, an acquaintance of Boone's sells "Run, Johnny, Run" T-shirts out of his shop. There's even a Facebook page with 1,600 friends.
"I never seen nobody get mad in my life smoking dope," said former Raywick Mayor Charlie Bickett, who runs Charlie's Place, a bar filled with milk cans and saws and a painting of Boone looking out over the water while smoking a joint. Meanwhile people in rural Kentucky are just a little bit concerned that they're beginning to sound too much like Californians.
Read last Monday's Fugitive Watch: Gary Wilson, Former Sheriff, Sought For Raping Minor.