2 men plead guilty to marijuana charges Raid in Ellicott City yields $250,000 worth of drugs, guns, explosives

August 05, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Two men have pleaded guilty to drug charges that stemmed from a New Year's Eve raid on an Ellicott City home that yielded $250,000 worth of drugs, firearms and explosives.

Sean M. DeBolt, 27, and Donald M. Mitchell, 36, admitted Monday in Howard County Circuit Court that they grew marijuana. The drugs found by police in the duplex in December included 96 marijuana plants, 30 pounds of marijuana and a small amount of LSD.

"They were manufacturing it there, processing it there, importing it there and selling it there," said Lt. Timothy Branning, commander of the Howard County Police Department's vice and narcotics division. "We certainly feel that we interrupted a major operation."

Court records say that the home where the two men lived, in the 10300 block of Tuscany Road, was a central drug point for a year before the police raid.

The third defendant in the case, John Douglas Stachow, 41, is scheduled for trial today.

DeBolt was originally charged with 15 counts ranging from possession with intent to distribute marijuana to possession of a destructive device. In an agreement with prosecutors, DeBolt pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and manufacturing marijuana.

All other charges were dropped. The charge of possession of the 161 explosives found in the home will be dropped when DeBolt is sentenced in November, according to court records. He faces a maximum of five years on each charge. Branning said the investigation is continuing.

"This investigation continues in several directions, and at this point we are not in a position to comment at all on those directions," he said yesterday.

Officials at the state fire marshal's office said the explosives were homemade and strong enough to knock down a building.

"These are weapons of destruction," said W. Faron Taylor, spokesman for the fire marshal's office, which investigated the case. "We're happy that we were able to get 161 of these off the street."

Peter O'Neill, DeBolt's attorney, said the explosives were for his client's amusement. Asked about the three rifles and three semiautomatic handguns, O'Neill said the tenants of the home were gun collectors.

"This young man [DeBolt] is not a major dealer or manufacturer of marijuana," O'Neill said. "The reality of the situation was they were producing it and growing it because they were users of marijuana."

Mitchell was originally charged with 12 counts ranging from possession with intent to distribute marijuana to unlawful possession of a firearm during drug trafficking. He pleaded guilty to manufacturing marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance. Prosecutors are going to recommend he receive a four-year sentence with all but 18 months suspended, said State's Attorney Marna McLendon.

His attorney could not be reached for comment.

Police began surveillance at the home after receiving a tip. When detectives searched the basement, they found 96 plants, dozens of heating lamps and several bags of soil nutrients.

Pub Date: 8/05/98

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