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Police net four more suspects in alleged marijuana grow ring.

Byline: George Barnes

GARDNER - Four more people have been charged in connection with the discovery Thursday of $1 million in marijuana plants being grown in a house in Hubbardston.

Ian M. Michaud, 33, of 40 Gibson Road, Ashburnham, and Michael P. Mercer, 30, Michael Williams, 28, and Keith R. Gould, 26, all of 10 Sunset Lane, Ashburnham, were arrested Thursday after an investigation that began with what police said was the discovery inside 45 Twin Hill Road, Hubbardston, of a sophisticated marijuana growing operation.

On Thursday, police said, officers investigating marijuana sales by Mr. Mercer discovered 355 marijuana plants, including 150 that were fully grown and ready to be harvested. They also said they found that the cellar of the house had been converted into two hydroponic grow rooms, one for larger plants and the other for small plants. Police said they found drug cultivation items on all three floors of the house. They estimate 70 percent of the house was used for the operation.

Donald R Hale, 55, of 40 Gibson Road, Ashburnham, was arrested at the house and charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and trafficking in marijuana. He was arraigned Friday and released on $1,000 cash bail.

The house where the alleged growing operation was discovered is owned by Mr. Hale's girlfriend, Theresa Ledoux. She has not been charged in the case.

After the discovery in Hubbardston, police said, they searched Mr. Hale's home in Ashburnham and arrested Mr. Michaud, Mr. Hale's son-in-law.

After initially saying he did not know anything about his father-in-law's illegal business, Mr. Michaud admitted he knew about the business and said he has been unemployed for two months after losing a job as a chef, police said. He said he did small jobs for Mr. Hale to help pay the bills, including delivering marijuana to customers. He told police he received one ounce of marijuana each week from Mr. Hale.

Mr. Michaud was arraigned yesterday on one count of possession of marijuana.

As a result of the search of Mr. Hale's house, police searched 10 Sunset Drive, Ashburnham. After finding items connected with the drug trade and fireworks, police arrested Mr. Mercer, Mr. Williams and Mr. Gould, police said.

Mr. Mercer and Mr. Williams were charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of fireworks. Mr. Gould was charged with possession of marijuana (subsequent offense), unlawful possession of fireworks, and two counts of possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute.

All four were arraigned and released on personal recognizance to appear July 13 for a pretrial hearing.

In interviewing Mr. Mercer, Mr. Williams and Mr. Gould, police said, they were told Mr. Mercer was paid two to three ounces of marijuana per week to assist Mr. Hale with trimming his plants. Mr. Mercer told police he sold the marijuana to pay bills.

The investigation was done by members of the North Worcester County Drug Task Force and the Hubbardston and Ashburnham police.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 26, 2012
Words:504
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