Bennington couple facing charges over illegal, large-scale marijuana business
BENNINGTON >> A Bennington couple were allegedly running a thriving, illegal marijuana business out of their mobile home, at least until police shut it down Tuesday.
The pair are now facing numerous felony charges and as of Wednesday afternoon were being held for lack of bail.
On Wednesday, in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division Bennington Unit, Devin Briggs, 39, of the White Birches Mobile Home Park, pleaded not guilty to felony counts of marijuana cultivation over 25 plants, marijuana sale or delivery one pound or greater, marijuana possession 10 pounds or greater, manufacture or cultivation of a regulated drug, possession of 100 or more doses of a hallucinogen, hallucinogen sale of over 10 doses, conspiracy to sell or deliver a manufactured or cultivated regulated drug, use of a firearm while selling or dispensing a drug, and three misdemeanor counts of depressant/stimulant/narcotic possession, dispensing/selling a regulated drug inside a dwelling, and practice or illegal advertising of medicine.
His wife, Rachel Briggs, 43, pleaded not guilty to the same set of charges.
Judge William D. Cohen continued the $20,000 bail they had both been placed under after their arrest on Tuesday. Should they post it, they will be under numerous release conditions, among them that they not discuss the case with each other, check in daily at the Bennington Police Department, and not knowingly contact or harass police informants.
According to court documents, police obtained a search warrant for the Briggs' home, which they executed on Sept. 6.
• 34 marijuana plants
• 8.4 pounds of processed marijuana bud
• 11.1 pounds of hash oil/THC edibles
• 72 prescription pills- 34 Adderall, 17 Alprazolam, 21 amphetamine
• 24 THC liquid "vape pens."
• 97 vials of a THC liquid tincture totalling 49.2 liquid ounces.
• 10 firearms - seven long guns and three handguns
Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett had argued for $100,000 bail to be placed on Devin Briggs, saying that since July 2015 he had sold approximately $385,000 in marijuana alone.
"This isn't just a marijuana case," said Plunkett, adding that Briggs and his wife are accused of selling large quantities of manufactured drugs that use marijuana as a base, as well as illegally possessing prescription pills.
Plunkett noted part of the State Police affidavit describing Devin Briggs' reaction to being told that he was being sent to jail. Briggs allegedly spit through the holding cell and kicked the door. He then attempted to assault two troopers who came in. The affidavit indicated he would be cited for more offenses based on this, though he was not charged Wednesday.
Devin Briggs' attorney, Public Defender Frederick Bragdon, argued that his client has strong community ties and does not pose a risk of fleeing the court's jurisdiction, which is the only factor upon which bail can legally be set.
According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Lucas Hall, in May police received word that Devin Briggs was selling large amounts of marijuana from his home and had 10 pounds of marijuana bud there at any one time. He also sold substances made from extracted THC, which is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
Another trooper heard the same thing from a different informant, however their sources stopped producing new information.
In early September, Hall arrested a person for being in possession of concentrated marijuana. The person gave police information with the understanding that their cooperation would be considered by the State's Attorney's Office, however nothing was promised to them. The person gave police information on alleged drug dealers and users in the area, Briggs being among them.
Hall wrote that the edible marijuana products consisted of chocolates, caramels, Tootsie rolls, brownies, and frosting. The processed buds were kept in large mason jars. In a safe, along with marijuana and related products, were ledger books detailing drug sales. Much of the marijuana found was labeled, detailing its flavor, strength, and supposed health benefits.
One of the firearms was a loaded AR-15 rifle. There was also a loaded handgun, three magazines, and loose ammunition in a bag with marijuana.
Police also found a "menu" detailing each type of marijuana, its price, and alleged medical use.
Devin Briggs opted not to speak to police. His wife, however, did. She said her husband began selling marijuana and marijuana concentrates in July 2015 and that he's sold between one and two pounds per week since. Lately he's been selling more concentrates, namely the "dabs." She admitted to being the one who does most of the research on how to make new marijuana products, such as the tincture. Devin did most of the selling, but she would sell when he was not around. She guessed they had sold to between 50 and 70 different people.
She gave police detailed information on what products she and her husband sold, how much they charged, and how each was made.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115
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