LOS ANGELES (AP) — The son of a retired chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison and fined $6,000 for heading a marijuana-smuggling ring in which he bribed security officers to get pot-filled suitcases on flights from Los Angeles to Boston.
Millage Peaks IV, 24, also received three years' probation, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence closer to two years for Peaks, who U.S. District Judge Otis Wright called the "brains" of the operation.
Wright said he handed down the shorter sentence because Peaks is the primary caretaker for his ailing grandmother, according to City News Service.
Peaks' attorney Nina Marino said he came up with the scheme that brought in more than $70,000 so he could help with mortgage payments on his family home.
Co-defendant Randy Littlefield, one of two former Transportation Security Administration officers who have pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the case, received eight months in prison and three years' probation. The other agent, Dianna Perez, is awaiting sentencing.
Peaks paid between $200 and $500 per piece of luggage to get at least 10 shipments of pot through security checkpoints at Los Angeles International Airport between November 2010 and October 2011, prosecutors said.
Most of the bags were cleared by Perez, prosecutors said. Her friend Littlefield twice allowed bags of marijuana to pass undetected through the LAX screening process for $200.
Perez also gave Peaks instructions on how to pack the pot to circumvent bomb-sniffing dogs and other airport security measures, Wright said, spreading information that could be "quite valuable" to potential terrorists.
"Now there is information out there, out of control, that gives information on how to circumvent explosive checks," Wright said.
Peaks' father, Millage Peaks III, was an LA city firefighter for 35 years, spending the last 22 months as the city's fire chief. He retired in 2011.