Two Bradley students and one former student were recently indicted for allegedly having a marijuana grow-house at their off-campus residence.
Blake K. Farrington, 24, and William Betke, 20, were each indicted for possessing between five and 20 marijuana sativa plants.
Patrick Georgett, 23, was indicted for possessing between 30 and 500 grams of marijuana.
All three were arrested Aug. 1 after University Police were tipped off to an alleged grow house.
The men are looking at potential jail time of more than one year, and fines of no more than $50,000 if convicted.
On Aug. 1, a Bradley maintenance worker found a suspicious vent that was blowing heat out of a university-owned residence at 704 Duryea Ave. The worker told police he was concerned the residents might have a heater in their basement that could be a fire hazard, so he went to look in the basement and found that a false wall had been built and behind the wall were several marijuana plants, according to police reports.
After receiving the tip, BUPD contacted the Peoria Police Drug and Vice Department and started observation. They then witnessed the suspects carrying large plastic bags out of the house.
“We felt it was a situation best handled by vice and drugs,” University Police Chief Dave Baer said. “When we saw the large bags being carried out, it was thought that drugs were being grown.”
Police said as they observed the house, they witnessed a vehicle with Georgett and another student leaving the property. After stopping the car, an Illinois State Police drug dog was called in. The dog smelled drugs in the car, and Georgett was then arrested for possession with intent to deliver. The driver of the car was not arrested for drug possession, as she was not involved with the marijuana, police said.
The dog was then brought to investigate a second car at the house, and it detected drugs in that car as well. After opening the car, officers found two marijuana plants inside the car and one inside the trunk.
Officers then made contact with Farrington, who consented to a search of the premises.
In the basement, officers said they found one room concealed by a false wall rigged to work like a door. They found three empty plastic buckets behind the door, reportedly used to grow the marijuana.
Past this room was a second room hidden by another false wall. Here police found growing equipment including lights with a generator and an electric pulley system to move the light around the room, according to police reports.
A third room in the basement, what police referred to as the smoke room, contained bongs, pipes and marijuana magazines, police said.
Bear said the university has never seen an operation such as this one.
“We have had individuals try to grow just one plant in a small pot,” he said. “These individuals are caught, but this [operation] was much more planned out. We usually have 10 or 12 students who will be arrested for smoking marijuana, but this case was a little bit different because these were individuals who decided to actually grow plants.”
Baer said it took 12 hours to disassemble the operation. Each individual piece must be disassembled and cataloged for investigative purposes, and to protect the rights of the accused.