May 21, 2019

Accident investigation leads to marijuana discovery > Apparent growing operation found in Orono

ORONO — A motor vehicle accident earlier this week led Orono police to an unexpected discovery at one of the motorist’s homes — a small marijuana growing operation.

Orono police Monday seized small plastic bags of marijuana leaves and seeds, boxes of drying marijuana leaves, marijuana growing equipment and paraphernalia from the home of Harold Read Jr., 22, and his father, 73-year-old Harold Read Sr.

Also seized as evidence were hallucinogenic mushrooms and photographs showing the younger Read standing with his arm around a marijuana plant, reported Orono police Detective John Knappe. Charges are pending and could come as early as today, Knappe said.

The investigation that would lead police to the drugs began innocuously. The younger Read’s pickup truck was broadsided by a tractor-trailer at 12:17 p.m. Monday as he pulled onto Park Street from Talmar Wood, a housing complex. Read told Knappe he didn’t see the truck in time.

Read’s truck was towed to the Read home before police obtained his registration and insurance information from it. Taken to St. Joseph Hospital, Read gave police permission to get the paperwork from his demolished truck, Knappe said.

Orono police Officers Scott Scripture and Jeff King went to the Read home and discovered a 3 1/2-foot marijuana plant growing in a bucket beside the driveway that circles the home, Knappe said. The officers also noticed what appeared to be equipment and materials used for growing the plants, cow manure, and in the back of a pickup truck two 55-gallon drums with a garden hose attached and one with a sump pump in it, possibly used to water plants.

While police were outside, Read, who suffered minor head injuries, returned to his home with his father and was told that police were seeking a search warrant for the home.

The officers allowed the younger Read to go inside to get his eyeglasses, Knappe said, with only one of them as an escort. Inside, according to the police, the officer found a box of dried marijuana in Read’s bedroom.

Granted a search warrant, investigators uncovered the marijuana in various stages of production, Knappe said. Although there were no plants growing inside the home at the time, Knappe said investigators determined that a closet had been used for cultivating the plants.

The senior Read told Knappe that he used the marijuana for his arthritis.

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