Franklin Countys First News

Two New Sharon men charged with stealing marijuana from police storage

FARMINGTON - Two men have been charged with stealing more than 34 pounds of marijuana and more than 600 plants being held as evidence in a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigation in September from a garage being utilized by police as storage space.

Todd Welch, 29, and Josh Allen, 26, both of New Sharon, have been charged with burglary and theft, both Class C felonies, as well as falsifying physical evidence and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. Additionally, Welch has been charged with violating the conditions of his release on an unrelated case. A third man, Scott Bard, 39, of Farmington, has been charged with unlawful possession of a scheduled drug, after police say they discovered oxycontin pills in his residence.

On Sept. 7, MDEA agents executed search warrants at residences in Weld and Township 6. Two men, Tad Smith, 35, and his father Joesph Smith, 62, were arrested on marijuana cultivation charges. Police said, as part of the case, they seized more than 1,000 marijuana plants, several pounds of dry marijuana buds and other evidence. This material was transported in two truckloads to Farmington, where the Farmington Police Department said it agreed to let the MDEA store the evidence in a locked garage on town-owned property.

The garage, located near the intersection of High Street and Farmington Falls Road, has been used by the department to store tires, bicycles, hazard signs and similar material. The MDEA wanted to store the marijuana there overnight, making arrangements to have it transported and destroyed the next morning. According to the affidavit and request for a warrant of arrest, filed by MDEA Special Agent Brian Ross with the Franklin County Superior Court, the second truckload of evidence arrived at roughly 9 p.m. in the evening.

Sometime that evening, before the daylight hours of Sept. 8, the locked overhead garage door was forced open with a large pry bar. On a visit to the garage at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Ed Hastings, an investigator with the state's Fire Marshal's Office, and FPD Chief Jack Peck discovered the forced entry.

Ross, in the court documents, reported seeing a trail of marijuana plants leading from the second floor of the facility, down a flight of stairs and proceeding from there across the garage parking lot and along a hedgerow. There the trail ended, with Ross reporting that he found a larger concentration of material, possibly indicating the spot the plants were stacked while being loaded into a vehicle. A police dog with the Maine State Police was unable to follow the track any further, as it had rained overnight.

Police canvassed the neighborhood asking if anyone saw anything, but reported no immediate leads at that time.

On Sept. 19, FPD received a call from an individual, who wanted to speak to the MDEA about the burglary. The individual, whom Ross described as a "Cooperating Defendant," was reportedly facing felony charges and had claimed he had been asked to participate in the alleged burglary. A representative from the District Attorney's Office, Ross, the "Cooperating Defendant" and his attorney met on Sept. 21.

According to the affidavit, the witness told the authorities that Welch and Bard had approached him about aiding in a burglary of the garage. Bard's girlfriend, according to the witness, had observed police officers unloading the marijuana on Sept. 8 and had told Bard about what she saw.

Welch and Bard, police believe, formulated the plan to break into the facility, although Bard did not want to participate in the actual break-in. Instead, police say, Allen, who owns a pickup truck, was contacted and agreed to assist Welch in moving the marijuana out of the building.

"According to CD #001 [the witness]," Ross' affidavit reads, "was told by Welch and Allen that they made multiple trips in and out of the evidence facility and loaded the plants into Allen's truck."

The cooperating defendant told authorities that Allen received 20 pounds of marijuana, while Welch and Bard received seven pounds each. Thirty-four pounds, the court document noted, was consistent with the amount of processed marijuana seized by police.

Arrest warrents were issued for Allen and Welch, along with search warrants for Allen's part-time residences in Farmington, a 1995 Ford Ranger pickup, the Bard residence in Farmington and the Welch residence in New Sharon. Investigators also searched a residence in Farmington on the Box Shop Road and another location in New Sharon near the Post Office. Police say they recovered some of the stolen marijuana plants but it is unclear at which locations those plants were found.

"Some of the stripped plants still had the evidence tape wrapped around the base of the stalks..." read a Department of Public Safety prepared statement released today, "leaving no doubt, that the plant material was part of the stolen evidence."

Police say that additional charges and suspects could be forthcoming as the investigation continues.

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12 Responses »

  1. good. now the stolen marijuana plants should be returned to their rightful owners, the farmers that grew them.

  2. So, to "Ben Hadd" I didn't see an apology letter that you demanded from 2lawabidingcitizen2, which by the looks of this article 2lawabidingcitizen2 clearly did not have to give and for the record Ben, why don't you go back and take a look at your own post and spell "embarrassment" again, yeah add the "s" and that's what you made yourself look like by trying to "save" all the people that left comments and demanding 2lawabidingcitizen2 to apologize for what they wrote! What a hero!! To farmtowngirl, they DEFF got their people now, NICE ONE! To "What the ???" I didn't know that Todd Welch, Josh Allen and Scott Bard were all cops??? INSIDE JOB??? Well you kinda had it right, they are "inside" now! This is my opinion and freedom of speech that will not be followed up with an apology post, so don't be waiting for one! Good job MDEA and all of the other agencies!!!! I do not feel that my money was wasted at all!! If anything they are all over worked and underpaid!! I work 2 jobs and pay taxes if someone wants to question my "elite" status! I guess 2lawadbidingcitizen2 does get the last laugh after all!

  3. just what this town needs more rats

  4. I wonder if there is a law in Maine that police can confiscate the persons vehicle and property if drugs are found at those locations? I think that would be a wonderful idea. The state can get the property, sell it , and make back some of the money that these crimes are costing us tax payers. Have to give them longer jail sentences though. The system has a revolving door for some individuals.

  5. Reminds me of the story of the cop riding around Rumford with a truck load of dope and getting that dope stolen!

  6. in trouble and then to get THEMSELVES

  7. I agree Tommy plain and simple

  8. Wow Tommy Chong you got some serious "I want to be right" issues going on..So pat yourself on the back and we will applaud you for always being right. I am glad to see you have an opinion and can always be right..we all have opinions and can say what we want. That is the freedom of speech. And I wont apologize for what I said either. It was MY opinion and thoughts...Just like yours. I hope attacking everyones OPINIONS on this matter has made you feel HIGH AND MIGHTY!!! Hope its made your day!!! It did mine!

  9. Tommy Chong, it is likely that you and 2lawabidingcitizen2 are the same angry person. You can't stand it when others give their opinions. You can dish it out but you can't take it.

  10. Well I say that the plants never should have been confiscated in the first place!!! How about we start spending our TAX payers money, that I work my ass off for, on busting the REAL criminals in the county!! The ones who are beating there wives, molesting children, and selling PILLS to our kids….or better yet, spend some of that now wasted money on something worth while, like our school system, or our healthcare! Marijuana is 100% organic! Its grows on our land, that is here for us to live off from!! Come on people! Lets focus on the REAL issues here!!! Marijuana? REALLY?! How many people do you hear about dieing from a “marijuana overdose”? Or killing themselves or another innocent human being because they were under the influence of marijuana? Hmm…lets think about this!! Marijuana is NOT the problem here people!!! IS NOT!!!! Now lets get our heads out of our ass’s and start worrying about what is destroying out country! And I can assure you, that it is NOT people who are growing marijuana to SERVIVE in what we call “OUR COUNTRY”!

  11. Dear aaald:

    The problems with asset forfeiture laws are two fold:

    1. Police can seize property without a warrant. The standard of proof for asset forfeiture is “probable cause” that the asset was connected to a drug crime in order to keep it, as opposed to the criminal standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, owners of seized property all too often have a heavier burden of proof than the government officials who stole their stuff.

    2. Police departments rely on asset forfeiture for revenue, giving them incentive to seize all they can.

    Also, less than 20% of federal seizure involve property whose owners were ever prosecuted.

    See http://reason.com/archives/2010/01/26/the-forfeiture-racket.

  12. Crazy Lady...I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!!!!!!

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