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Veteran MMA ref Josh Rosenthal Pleads Guilty to Charges of Owning Marijuana
Referee Josh Rosenthal pleads guilty to charges for owning $6 million worth of marijuana
Josh Rosenthal oversees Donald Cerrone versus Melvin Guillard at UFC 150. (Getty)
Well-known MMA referee Josh Rosenthal has been a part of some of the UFC's most famous bouts, including Brock Lesnar's championship win over Shane Carwin and Dan Henderson's Fight of the Year win over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Now, it turns out he was also part of an illegal drug operation.
In a story that could have been the plot of the show "Weeds," Rosenthal plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. He and an associate owned a warehouse that kept 1,356 marijuana plants with a street value of $6 million. According to MMA Junkie, he could spend more than three years in prison:
The government is recommending 37 months in jail, fines and five years of probation, during which he would be subject to random searches, according to the agreement. Without a deal, he faced 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and a minimum of five years' probation.
Rosenthal was once a mainstay on the UFC refereeing rotation, but hasn't been in the cage recently. His license lapsed in California as he dealt with his legal troubles and healed from a staph infection. Though referees are assigned by state commissions, not the UFC, Rosenthal had earned the praise of UFC president Dana White for his role in the Lesnar-Carwin bout.
Faced with legal trouble, Rosenthal let his refereeing licenses lapse in two of the most active MMA states in the nation, California and Nevada.
Representatives from both commissions confirmed to MMA Fighting that Rosenthal did not renew his licenses in either state after the end of 2012. Both states ask prospective officials if they have ever been convicted of felonies, making it unclear if Rosenthal would be able to return to the role in the future.
Of course, he has much larger concerns now. His sentencing hearing will take place on May 17, after a continuance from the original May 7 date. He faces at least 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine, at least five years to life on supervised release, and a $100 special assessment fee.