$1M bond in pot tra∞ck­ing case

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Tom McGhee

An Ara­pa­hoe County judge on Thurs­day re­fused to re­duce the $1 mil­lion bond for a man ac­cused of lead­ing a ring sus­pected of il­le­gally grow­ing mar­i­juana and sell­ing it out-of­s­tate, de­spite ob­jec­tions from his lawyer, who called the bust po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Christo­pher Decker, a lawyer for Michael Stone­house, ac­cused 18th Ju­di­cial District At­tor­ney Ge­orge Brauch­ler, who is con­sid­ered a pos­si­ble GOP can­di­date for gov­er­nor in 2018, of in­flat­ing the se­ri­ous­ness of the crime to el­e­vate his po­lit­i­cal pro­file.

“They are sell­ing this like it is a big, huge bust,” Decker said out­side the court­room. “I think they stubbed their toe on it.”

Brauch­ler’s of­fice wouldn’t com­ment on the charges be­yond what was said dur­ing the hear­ing.

Stone­house, 53, and 15 other sus­pects were ar­rested in a metro-wide raid March 16. Au­thor­i­ties said the sus­pects grew and pack­aged hun­dreds of pounds of pot each month and shipped it to at least five states. They also are ac­cused of pro­duc­ing and il­le­gally sell­ing hash oil.

The in­dict­ment lead­ing to the bust fol­lowed a raid last Au­gust on an eques­trian prop­erty in El­iz­a­beth where they found 2,500 pounds of mar­i­juana that of­fi­cials es­ti­mate was worth about $5 mil­lion. The El­bert County prop­erty, with its rid­ing arena and huge house, is con­nected to Stone­house, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

De­spite the raid, the group con­tin­ued to cul­ti­vate cannabis at that prop­erty in El­bert County.

The de­ci­sion to con­tinue il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity fol­low­ing the first raid, which led to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that trig­gered last week’s bust, was among the rea­sons District Judge Pa­tri­cia Her­ron gave for re­fus­ing to lower Stone­house’s bond to $100,000.

She also re­ferred to the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana, say­ing, “the fact that he could have done much of what he was do­ing le­git­i­mately, but didn’t go that route,” also made her leery he might skip bond and be a dan­ger to the com­mu­nity.

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