BANGOR — The federal trial of a Monroe man prosecutors describe as the patriarch of a sophisticated family marijuana growing operation has started.

James F. Ford has pleaded not guilty to drug and firearms charges.

WABI-TV reports that the 58-year-old Ford’s lawyer said in U.S. District Court in Bangor on Tuesday that the charges against his client are greatly exaggerated.

Prosecutors say authorities seized 300 pot plants worth $800,000 along with growing equipment and two semi-automatic weapons from Ford’s home two years ago.

Ford’s two sons, both in their 30s, have pleaded guilty.

His wife’s trial ended in a mistrial and she is scheduled to be retried next month.

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