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BARRIE -- A lawyer representing six of the men charged in connection
with Canada's largest indoor pot bust says the public is "amused" with
the incident and that his clients do not belong in jail. "Most people
find it amusing," said Toronto lawyer Randall Barrs. "It shows that
the public does not see marijuana as a social problem -- on the other
hand if you look at what was produced in that plant before ..." he
said, referring to the former Molson's brewery and bottling plant. "It
is kind of ironic because society does perceive alcohol as a huge problem."

Barrs said several popular comedians have already made jokes about the
huge bust -- including Bette Midler, who called the massive plant
"your one spot stop-and-shop," for booze and pot.

Yesterday, a justice of the peace set free eight of the nine accused
men arrested during a Friday night raid on the massive plant that
police say generated $100 million a year.

All but one was allowed to go free on $10,000 cash bail -- providing
the families could scrounge up the money. Five of the families
couldn't make the bail but promised they would come up with the cash
by today.

"What am I supposed to do -- rob a bank?" one distraught wife said
outside of court.

Before she released them, Justice of the Peace Sue Hilton made a
non-communication order between the men and Vince DeRosa, president of
Fercan Developments, the parent company that owns the massive building
where police found the mammoth marijuana operation.


There is also a non-communication order with Bob Derosa, Lex McGee,
Jeff Olesay and employees that work at any of the existing companies
who also leased spaced in the building, including Fercan Developments,
Multi-Brand Foods, National Roasters, Barrie Good Fish Co., Smitty's
Transport and Arcade Trucking.

Police would not say if there is a connection between those listed in
the non-communication orders and the multimillion-dollar grow
operation said to be headed by organized crime.

In court, as the accused men sat in the prisoner box wearing
handcuffs, Crown attorney John Madden announced that an OPP officer
sent a message asking to adjourn the bail hearings pending further
investigation, but the defence lawyers hotly objected to it.

"I don't know who this OPP officer is, but he is not a lawyer and he
clearly does not know the law," Barrs said, arguing that his clients
have been in jail since Friday and there was already a legal agreement
on the bail conditions. There has already been one adjournment after
the men were first charged before a justice of the peace.

"It is clearly against the law to have this case adjourned again,"
lawyer Bernard Cugleman agreed.

Court heard few details surrounding the case but the Crown said at
least one of the men was seen running away from the plant on the night
of the raid when more than 100 officers swooped in.


Bail is only being contested for Michael DiCicco, 60, of Toronto. His
hearing is set for this morning. Lawyers said he was not present
because he was in hospital for minor problems.

Yesterday, a desk operator at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie
confirmed DiCicco was there, but after further questioning, a nurse
denied his presence and hung up the phone.

Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2004
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Contact: editor@sunpub.com
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