Ellicott City man gets home detention for growing marijuana

Richard Marriott says he still has nightmares about crash, fire that led to drug discovery

August 02, 2011|Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

A 44-year-old Ellicott City man who operated what police described as a sophisticated marijuana-growing operation discovered after a sports car crashed into his residence and caught fire will spend six months on home detention.

Howard County Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure sentenced Richard Marriott on Tuesday to five years in prison, but suspended all but six months, and ordered him to pay a $1,500 fine.

Marriott's attorney, Leonard Shapiro, said in court that his client was "certainly not living the lifestyle of a drug dealer." Shapiro said his client had used the marijuana for medicinal purposes to treating diabetes and glaucoma and had, over time, become a "marijuana horticulturist."

After putting out the fire that did extensive damage to Marriott's home and destroyed his sport utility vehicle, investigators found that four rooms in the house were used to grow marijuana, including a "budding room" where 19 plants up to four feet tall were discovered.

In Marriott's bedroom, police said, they found a 5-gallon bucket containing marijuana leaves and stems. A scale used to weigh the marijuana was found in a desk drawer in Marriott's bedroom, according to documents.

Assistant State's Attorney Les Gross said during the hearing that there was the equivalent of more than five pounds of marijuana in full bloom and afterward said that he thought Marriott's interest in growing the marijuana was more than just a "hobby."

"I understand that the defendant has certain medical issues," Gross told Leasure. "But there are all kinds of medical treatments on the market that are legal."

Gross had asked the judge to sentence Marriott to up to 18 months in jail.

Marriott told Leasure that he still has nightmares from that night last December when 20-year-old Bryan Bolster crashed his speeding BMW into Marriott's home. Marriott, who told police he was at home watching a movie, tried to pull Bolster out of the burning vehicle without success. Bolster died in the accident.

"I think about this every day," Marriott said in court. He said that he has come to realize that his marijuana-growing operation was not the right way to treat his illnesses. "It was wrong to do what I did, and I'll never do it again."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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