Pot stench at Alliance police station subsiding

By Peter H. Milliken



The city police station here still smells of marijuana three days after police raided what they believe was the largest indoor marijuana-growing operation in the city’s history.

A police dispatcher said the odor at the police station from the 260 seized plants was “horrible” Tuesday evening when the raid occurred — so bad, in fact, the department asked the public to help.

Its Facebook page carried this plea Thursday along with a photo of an evergreen-shaped hanging, cardboard air fresheners:

“THE WHOLE POLICE DEPARTMENT smells like marijuana from the marijuana raid the other night. Can someone donate about 1000 of these little tree air fresheners please? It’s so overwhelming we had to close the jail for a day and several employees felt sick from it. Maybe 2000.....

By Friday, the dispatcher said, the aroma was “considerably less.”

Executing a search warrant after a 30-day investigation, police raided a home at 2115 S. Seneca Ave., and said they found the plants in four rooms in various stages of growth, some of them six feet tall, with an elaborate lighting, fertilizing and ventilating system on the premises.

They also found more than $7,000 in cash, believed to be proceeds from the growing operation, together with scales, packaging and shipping materials, computers and documents, they said.

Robert Baumgartner, 41, of that address, was arrested and charged with illegal marijuana cultivation, marijuana possession and trafficking, and possession of criminal tools, all felonies, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Wednesday, Baumgartner pleaded innocent to the misdemeanor charge in Alliance Municipal Court, waived his preliminary hearing on the felonies, was bound over to the Stark County grand jury, and freed from jail after posting $12,500 bond.

Although the marijuana-growing operation in Alliance was significant, it was considerably smaller than the one U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided in February 2004 in a warehouse at 814 Marshall St. in Youngstown, where they found more than 3,850 plants in seven rooms, ranging from seedlings to mature plants.

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