(QCOSTARICA) After living his life in Costa Rica for more than five years, Bruce Ley, 69, is back in Boca Raton, Florida facing five to 40 years in federal prison on charges of manufacturing marijuana and running a grow house, reports the Sun-sentinel.com

Bruce Levy, 69, formerly of Boca Raton, was extradited from Costa Rica to face federal charges he was growing 984 marijuana plants in a Lake Worth storefront in 2011. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. (Sun Sentinel / Broward Sheriff's Office Handout)
Bruce Levy, 69, formerly of Boca Raton, was extradited from Costa Rica to face federal charges he was growing 984 marijuana plants in a Lake Worth, Florida storefront in 2011. Photo: Sun Sentinel / Broward Sheriff’s Office Handout.

According to the report, just three days after investigators found 984 marijuana plants growing in a building in Palm Beach County in 2011, they say their main suspect took off to Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica, Levy called the lead investigator and said he’d like to come home, but only on the guarantee of not being prosecuted. Receiving no such promise, Levy went on with his life in Costa Rica, buying a home and opening a cigar shop in the lobby of a San Jose hotel.

Five years later, in May of this year, Levy was arrested in Costa Rica on an unrelated charge. Levy’s lawyer said his client was found not guilty in that case.

But the arrest alerted U.S. authorities who had obtained an arrest warrant on the pot allegations and sought extradition. Levy was back in South Florida last week.

In Federal Court, Levy’s lawyer Randall Haas tried to persuade a judge to release his client on bond. He argued that Levy had not really been hiding, that his client paid U.S. income taxes and received Social Security benefits while living in Costa Rica.

The prosecutor argued that Levy may not have been hiding but he knew he was wanted in the U.S. and asked the judge to keep Levy jailed while the charges are pending: “Now that we have him here, we’d like to keep him here.”

On the basis of Levy having already proved to be a flight risk, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow ruled that Levy will remain jailed.