Green Jade defendant’s guilty plea will stand

Green Jade defendant Fen Shou Chen had his request to withdraw his guilty plea — to charges stemming from his involvement in illegal marijuana grows — denied and faces deportation to his native China.

Chen pleaded guilty to illegal manufacture of marijuana and use of a house for drug purposes March 23 and was sentenced to six months. When he was released shortly after, he was detained by immigration authorities and has been held at the immigration detention facility in Tacoma since.

Chen filed the motion for dismissal through his attorney, Terrance Wong, whose office is in Newcastle. In it, he claimed his attorney did not make clear that his guilty plea would lead to his deportation. (He had been in the country legally.) He said the lack of a translator in his particular dialect of the Chinese language led to his confusion and his guilty plea.

Superior Court Judge David Edwards rendered his decision Sept. 19, denying the request.

“The assertion of Mr. Chen that he was not able to effectively communicate with the court interpreter and his attorney is not supported by the record,” wrote Edwards. “On March 12, 2018, his attorney advised the court that she spoke with Mr. Chen on that date, that he had questions about the status of his green card, and that she needed to provide some answers before proceeding further.”

Edwards maintained that Chen was well aware of the possibility of deportation as a result of his guilty plea.

“At the beginning of that proceeding (when Chen entered his guilty plea in court March 23), the interpreter informed the court that he had spoken with Mr. Chen that morning, and that Mr. Chen was able to understand the translation and to communicate well with the interpreter. The court then engaged in a lengthy colloquy with the defendant, which required the defendant to answer several questions. The responses of the defendant are entirely consistent with him having a clear understanding of the words that were being spoken.”

Chen was among the dozens of arrests made by multiple agencies in late November and early December in the large-scale Green Jade bust of illegal marijuana grow operations in Grays Harbor, Thurston and King counties, the vast majority in Grays Harbor County.