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March 5, 10

NEWS / Four Gloucester County Residents Plead Guilty to Growing Marijuana in Their Homes Using Hydroponic S


TRENTON - Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that four Gloucester County residents pleaded guilty today to growing marijuana plants in their homes using hydroponic equipment and grow lights.

The charges resulted from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Marijuana Eradication Squad. The State Police uncovered sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operations in three separate homes: the home of a husband and wife in Deptford, the home of the wife’s mother in Woodbury, and the home of a Glassboro man who is not related to the other defendants. All three homes were rigged with equipment from the couple’s hydroponics store in Deptford.

According to Director Taylor, Paul J. Trace, 45, and his wife, Charlotte P. Trace, 48, of Deptford, pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of maintaining or operating a marijuana production facility before Superior Court Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr. in Gloucester County. The couple owned and operated Tasty Harvest Hydroponics in Deptford. Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants in water that contains dissolved nutrients, instead of in soil.

When the State Police executed a search warrant at the couple’s home on First Avenue on Nov. 20, 2008, they discovered two indoor growing areas containing high-tech marijuana cultivation equipment and 33 marijuana plants, along with a bag containing nearly a pound of marijuana.

Under their plea agreements, the state will recommend that Paul Trace be sentenced to five years in state prison, including two years of parole ineligibility, and that Charlotte Trace be sentenced to five years in prison, including 21 months of parole ineligibility. Deputy Attorney General Daniel Bornstein of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau took the guilty pleas from the Traces and the other defendants.

The mother of Charlotte Trace, Miriam Andrew, 76, of Woodbury, pleaded guilty today to a second-degree charge of manufacturing marijuana. The state will recommend that she be sentenced to a term of probation. Andrew admitted that she permitted her daughter to grow marijuana in her home in Woodbury. The State Police executed a search warrant at Andrew’s home on Edith Avenue on the same day that the Traces’ home was searched. They found 16 marijuana plants growing in a hydroponic system in a second-floor bedroom, as well as a bag containing approximately one-quarter pound of marijuana.

Also today, Frank J. Harder III, 33, of Glassboro, pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of maintaining or operating a marijuana production facility. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to five years in state prison, including 18 months of parole ineligibility.

Harder formerly worked at the Traces’ hydroponics store. Members of the State Police Marijuana Eradication Squad, assisted by the State Police Troop A TEAMS Unit, executed a search warrant on Nov. 20, 2008, at Harder’s home on North Main Streeet in Glassboro. They found an elaborate hydroponic cultivation system with 43 marijuana plants, 20 marijuana “clones” or cuttings, and bags containing a total of approximately 2 pounds of marijuana.

Judge Marshall scheduled sentencing for the Traces and Andrew for April 9. He will schedule sentencing for Harder at a later date.

Attorney General Dow credited the State Police Marijuana Eradication Squad for conducting the investigation, and Deputy Attorney General Bornstein for prosecuting the case.

http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases10/pr20100304c.html

 




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