A 46-year-old man was charged last month with growing more than 100 marijuana plants in a barn on a Hoffmansville Road property owned by a township supervisor candidate who lives there as well.
Although the arrest came just last month, the search warrant that found the alleged growing operation was executed four years ago.
On April 16, New Hanover Police arrested Stanley Brooks and charged him with running a marijuana growing operation in a barn at 2301 Hoffmansville Road, located at the corner with Church Road.
According to county property records, that two-acre property is owned by Tiffany Rusin and was purchased in 2004.
It is the same address given by Rusin when she filed with Montgomery County to run for the Republican nomination for township supervisor.
Rusin and running mate Michael Salerno are opposed for the Republican nomination by incumbent Ralph J. Fluharty and Philip J. Agliano.
Because no Democrats have registered to run for the two open seats, the Republican primary on May 21 could decide the election.
Rusin said Tuesday morning her attorney had advised her not to speak about the matter, but she did say, “I want to make it clear to the voters that I have not been charged. I was not implicated or even questioned in the matter.”
Asked if she thought the 2009 search warrant, and the marijuana growing operation it is alleged to have uncovered on her property, would be relevant to a campaign for supervisor, Rusin replied, “Honestly, I did not think that it would.”
By 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, a statement Rusin indicated she intended to email to The Mercury had not arrived.
During the investigation, police observed a PVC vent pipe emitting vapor, a hose and open windows at the barn in question, despite cold temperatures, “which could indicate attempts at ventilation.”
Subsequently, on Feb. 9, 2009, police obtained a search warrant for electrical records at the property and found the bill there was split into two meters and which showed electric usage far and above the average for a property of that nature. In fact, electric use in the barn was “drastically higher” than at the house on the property, according to court records.
Police then decided to use a “thermal imaging camera” borrowed from Horsham Police to conduct a scan of the property.
“Individuals engaged in marijuana cultivation utilize high-intensity grow lights which provide sufficient light, in lieu of sunlight, to grow marijuana plants indoors,” according to court records.
“These high-intensity lights are what cause higher than normal electric usage,” according to the document, and also “give off an enormous amount of heat.”
The thermal imaging camera was used on the barn between 4 and 5 a.m. on Feb. 27, 2009, and police said the image showed the barn “exhibited an unusually high amount of heat and energy in a manner consistent with structures adapted for marijuana growth and cultivation.”
That evidence was enough for police to obtain a search warrant for the property.
Upon serving the warrant on the property, which court records indicate “is listed as the property of Tiffany Rusin and as the residence of Stanley C. Brooks,” police said it had a “very strong odor of fresh marijuana.”
Police found “several rooms that were located behind false walls, in an apparent effort to hide their existence,” according to court documents. “Inside of the hidden rooms, marijuana plants of at least two stages of growth were located, as well as chemicals, soil and equipment commonly used in the indoor growth, cultivation and processing of marijuana.”
In addition to the growth lamps, police allegedly found 103 live marijuana plants in various stages of growth and 23 dried marijuana plants.
After being taken to a lab, it was confirmed that police had uncovered “approximately 12 pounds” of marijuana, court documents said.
According to the criminal complaint filed April 16, Brooks was charged: with manufacture/possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; possession of a controlled substance; possession of drug paraphernalia; and causing or risking a catastrophe.
No charges have been filed against Rusin.
Other than to say it was “an ongoing investigation,” township police declined to comment on why Rusin was not charged and why it took four years from the time the search warrant was executed to arrest Brooks.
According to court records, Brooks was arraigned before District Judge Maurice Saylor on April 16 and released on $50,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 4.