Richland teens who ran pot grow get jail sentences

Kristin Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 8, 2014 

Two teenage roommates who ran a marijuana grow operation in their Richland home each got a 15-day jail sentence.

Alexander Colton Grego and Zachary Steven Olsen, both 19, were sentenced for their earlier guilty pleas to one count of possessing marijuana under 40 grams by a person under age 21.

The original charge of manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana was reduced in a plea deal.

Richland police were contacted by the teens' landlord after she got complaints about "short-stay traffic" at the Putnam Drive duplex.

The landlord also informed officers that a man hired to do electrical work had reported seeing several marijuana plants in the basement, UV-type lights and several empty boxes for those lights, court documents said. The electrician told the landlord he "smelled a distinct odor of fresh marijuana," documents said.

A neighbor confirmed that there had been a large amount of traffic stopping by the house for short periods of time. The neighbor also reported that his nanny told him she'd recently purchased pot from one of the residents, court documents said.

Cpl. Hyrum Stohel stopped by the house on Sept. 7 and talked to Grego, who denied that anyone was growing marijuana inside the home. Grego also told Stohel that he and his roommate were younger than 21 and said neither had a medical marijuana prescription, documents said.

Officers returned Sept. 8 with a search warrant and found five starter plants, two mature plants that were drying and lights that are used to in the growing process. It appeared that someone had started dismantling the lights.

Officers also seized a grinder and two glass mason jars, all filled with green vegetable matter, a glass smoking device and two drying plants in Grego's bedroom, court documents said.

In the basement, they found additional smoking devices, a digital scale, various boxed and plastic totes of grow equipment and a plastic garbage bag full of shake, which consists of both the plants and stems.

Later at the police department, Grego told an officer that he is a caregiver for a person who doesn't live in their house, documents said.

Grego was told he can do his 15 days on jail work release if he's eligible. His sentence included 75 days suspended, which can be ordered if he doesn't follow through with conditions.

Olsen hopes to serve his 15 days on work crew. He also got 75 days suspended.

Both of them must start doing the time or sign up for the alternative program by Tuesday.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531;; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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