Man says he grew pot to pay attorney

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GREENWOOD — A 41-year-old man told police that he was trying to pay legal costs related to a Missouri drug conviction by growing marijuana, according to a court affidavit.

Stephen Nicholas Petrocelli, of West Summit Road in Greenwood, was arrested on May 12 on a charge of probation violation. The District Attorney’s Office added aggravated marijuana cultivation and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person after Agent Zane Loper of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency submitted a warrant in support of the charges on Tuesday.

Gerry Baril, supervisor of the MDEA’s Western Maine District Task Force, said Petrocelli became a resident of Maine and transferred his probation conditions from Missouri. According to Loper’s affidavit, Petrocelli was convicted of felony charges of manufacturing a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance on May 3 in Laclede County, Mo.

Petrocelli requested a travel permit from his Maine probation officer Michael Downs on May 12 to leave the state to begin his sentence in Missouri. Downs told him that he needed to verify his address and conduct a home inspection before he made a decision, and requested assistance from the MDEA in the task.

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Loper said Petrocelli admitted to having an active growing operation in the house, as well as three firearms. Trooper Ron Turnick of the Maine State Police arrived to assist in the search, and police seized 37 marijuana plants and the weapons. Baril said the firearms were a Walther .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a Ruger Mini-14 rifle, and a Ruger SR-22 rifle. He said the guns led to the aggravated charge.

“Being a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing any type of firearm,” he said. “He was in possession of three firearms, and they all looked relatively new.”

According to Loper’s report, Petrocelli said the reason he was growing the marijuana was “so he could raise money to pay his defense attorney bill from the Missouri case.”

A judge ordered that Petrocelli be held without bail after his initial court appearance on Friday. According to a news release from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Petrocelli was arrested on similar charges in 2008. Police found 325 marijuana plants at his residence, then in Gravois Mills, Mo., and charged him with marijuana cultivation and second-degree drug trafficking.

mlangeveld@sunjournal.com

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