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Three Sentenced To Federal Prison For Marijuana Growing Operation

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
wo men and a woman were sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for their roles in an indoor marijuana growing operation at a house in Sandy Springs.

According to information provided in court, neighbors on Habersham Waters Road called police on Jan. 8, 2010, after noticing a strong odor, electricity brownouts, and a lot of activity at the house owned by the parents of 32-year-old Phillip Laughlin.

Sandy Springs police watched the house until they saw Marc Brotemarkle, 24, of Harrisburg, Miss., and Derek O'Neal, 32, of Atlanta, leave the house in Jennifer McChan's car. Laughlin allegedly pulled out of the driveway in another car.

Police stopped Laughlin, but he was able to call Brotemarkle and O'Neal with instructions to return to the house and to "destroy everything."

Back at the house, police saw one of the men accompany 21-year-old McChan, of Harrisburg, Mo., and Sarah Rae Townsend, 30, of Sandy Springs, to a car in the driveway and put their children in the backseat. One of the men put a large object in the truck.

McChan tried to elude police, but she was stopped at a nearby supermarket parking lot. That is when Sandy Springs police found $20,000 in Townsend's jacket and an electric power generator in the trunk of the car.

Meanwhile, police still at the house saw Brotemarkle and O'Neal hiding items in the backyard. A SWD Cobray M-11 9 mm pistol was found under some leaves and bags holding three more firearms and $20,000 worth of fresh marijuana packaged for sale was discovered under a gazebo.

Law enforcement officers searching inside the house found in the basement a complex marijuana growing operation containing 853 marijuana plants and equipment to power a grow house. Police were led to another grow house on Long Island Place in Sandy Springs, where they found 263 marijuana plants and complex power, irrigation and ventilation systems.

A jury convicted Brotemarkle and O'Neal in February of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana plants and possession of marijuana plants with intent to distribute. The two were sentenced Tuesday to more than five years in prison and then four years of supervised release.

McChan pleaded guilty in February to misprision of a felony, which means she did not report a crime. She was sentenced Tuesday to a year and four months in prison, plus a year on probation.

Laughlin and Townsend were captured March 17 in Oakland, Calif., and they will be returned to Georgia to stand trial.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: ajc.com
Author: Rhonda Cook
Copyright: 2011 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Contact: rcook@ajc.com
Website: Three sentenced to federal prison for marijuana growing operation -| ajc.com
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