Bus contractor accused of growing marijuana

Sykesville man, stepson jailed on drug charges after police raid home

July 14, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville man, who is a special-education school bus contractor for Howard County public schools, and his 28-year-old stepson were jailed on drug charges yesterday, after the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force raided their home Monday night, state police at Westminster said.

John Franklin Horton, 64, of the 1000 block of Fannie Dorsey Road and Roy John Patterson, 28, who was living at the home, were being held at the Carroll County Detention Center yesterday on $15,000 bail each on charges including manufacturing and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and crack cocaine, maintaining a common nuisance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The task force, with troopers from Westminster and a police dog unit, raided the home with a search warrant at 6: 45 p.m., according to police and court documents. Horton was charged with six offenses and Patterson with seven, including an additional charge of possession of heroin.

Police uprooted seven marijuana plants in front of the residence, and an eighth growing in a barrel near a camper, according to court papers. Two more were taken from pots in a kitchen window, with plants ranging in height from 6 inches to 2 feet, documents said.

Other items seized included two small bags of a white-yellow, rocklike substance from under the living room couch, which field-tested positive for cocaine, and plastic bags for packaging crack, according to the report. Several marijuana pipes, a bag of seeds, two cut straws and several gelatin capsules containing suspected heroin were taken from a bedroom used by Patterson, who gave court officials an address in Anne Arundel County.

Glenn J. Johnson, director of transportation for Howard County public schools, said Horton "is a contractor for the school system."

Of the system's 341 buses, Horton operates nine, including two special-education routes this summer. Horton doesn't usually drive his buses, but can fill in as a substitute.

"We became aware of this [arrest] this morning," Johnson said yesterday. "There is a summer school program for special ed and he has two buses, the smaller 42-passenger buses. These two buses have been reassigned to another contractor to operate until we find out what's going on."

Horton recently moved his garage from Dayton to Livestock Road in Howard County, Johnson said, and all nine of his 24-foot buses for special education students are fitted with orthopedic lifts and wheelchair spaces. They usually carry eight to 10 students.

Phone calls to the business were unanswered yesterday.

"Mr. Horton has been here a long time," said Johnson, who took his post in 1982. "Mr. Horton was one of the first contractors in Howard County to become involved in special-education transportation" -- dating back to the station wagon-style "carryalls" that were used decades ago.

"He's one of our longtime contractors in Howard County and provided satisfactory service over those many years," Johnson said. "I'm taken [a]back as much as anybody."

Pub Date: 7/14/99

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