Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 2016
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2016 Times Argus


WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A second-grader's tales of how he was helping 
a "farmer" grow "special medicine" plants led to the bust of a large 
indoor marijuana growing operation in Windsor last week.

Steven Mann, 54, pleaded innocent Monday in White River Junction 
criminal court to a felony count of cultivating more than 25 
marijuana plants. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured appearance bond.

Windsor Police Det. Jennifer Frank wrote in an affidavit that Mann's 
girlfriend's 8-year-old son told school officials and Frank about 
Mann's "green thumb" and how he got to help him grow "special 
medicine that can cure anything at all."

Frank said the boy described in detail what sounded to her like 
marijuana plants and then added that Mann was giving the plants to 
"anyone who needs the medicine." A steady stream of people were 
phoning and coming to the house frequently, the boy said.

In his own confession, according to court records, Mann wrote that 
when officers showed up at his front door on Friday his girlfriend, 
Leona Hunt, "had just taken a hit when they knocked."

Frank noted there was a significant odor of burnt marijuana when she 
entered the apartment and said Mann handed over a warm glass pipe the 
couple appeared to have been using in the same room the child was in.

Police said they found two "grow rooms" next to the child's bedroom; 
one for starter plants and one for more mature specimens. Police also 
reported seizing nearly $700 in cash and paraphernalia including 
pipes, rolling papers, bags of marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, 
bongs, grinders and digital scales.

Mann allegedly admitted selling marijuana for $10 a joint, or $50 for 
an eighth-of-an-ounce "slice," telling investigators that he did "90 
percent" of his business in New Hampshire and also gave away some 
marijuana free to at least one elderly Windsor resident.

Police said further charges are also expected to be filed against 
Hunt in connection with the bust.

Court records said the Department for Children and Families has 
launched its own investigation because of the proximity of the child 
to the alleged illegal drug operation and also pissibly to the 
chemicals that were used.

Mann, who has no prior criminal record, faces up to 15 years in 
prison if convicted.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom