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Author James Higdon On Legacy, Legend Of Johnny Boone

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The infamous Kentucky criminal Johnny Boone is set to appear before Canadian deportation officials today.

Boone was arrested in Montreal last week after being on the lam from American authorities for nearly a decade. He went on the run after netting a lengthy prison sentence that stemmed from his alleged cultivation and trafficking of marijuana in Marion County, Kentucky -- just an hour south of Louisville.

His story was captured in the 2012 book, "The Cornbread Mafia," authored by James Higdon.

Higdon is the son of state Sen. Jimmy Higdon and spent a year interviewing Boone for his book. I spoke to him this week to talk about Boone's criminal past and the 73-year-old's legacy in rural Marion County. Listen to our conversation in the audio player above.

Interview Highlights

Why is he a wanted man?

"In 2008, the Kentucky State Police and the DEA found him growing, allegedly, 2,000 marijuana seedlings in flower pots. That would have constituted his third federal strike, which would trigger the three strikes law and a mandatory life sentence without parole. So, instead of surrendering himself with a life sentence, he went on the run."

Who is this guy, he's a figure in Marion County, right?

"He's a legend where he's from. The U.S. Marshals found this out when they went to go find him. The U.S. Marshals found that there was nobody in Marion or Washington County that wanted to point a finger at Johnny Boone."

Why is that?

"Because he has a lot of respect in his community for being a responsible member of his community who gives back to a lot of people, who helps out with a lot of people. He's a really intelligent guy with a real calling and a knack for outdoor cannabis cultivation. He was cross breeding varieties of cannabis plants from seeds people were bringing to him from southeast Asia and South America and crossing them with local Kentucky varieties in order to increase yields and increase certain aspects of the plant."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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