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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 1, 2011

Search is on for pot growers
Hundreds of plants found in New Scotland

By Zach Simeone

NEW SCOTLAND — A marijuana growing operation was discovered early Wednesday morning near the New Scotland-Berne town line, in a building that housed several hundred pot plants, and the Albany County Sheriff’s Office has three suspects in its sights.

The sheriff’s office is in pursuit of John D. Haak Jr., 32; Jason T. Ball, 34; and Jesse O. Galvin, 28, all believed to be residents of 217 Beaver Dam Road, just down the street from the grow house at 161 Beaver Dam Road.

“There’s a nexus from the two buildings involving those three people,” Acting Sheriff Craig Apple said of the suspects. “Mail, notes, passports…photos of them together.”

At 217 Beaver Dam Road, deputies found 10 pounds of harvested marijuana — enough for a felony charge — along with more cash, LSD, hash, and other pieces of evidence, the release says. “This is hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment,” Apple told The Enterprise Wednesday as he walked through the grow house, pointing to the different lights, piping, fans, and other items used to grow the plants.

“This is just High Times Magazine stuff,” he said, gesturing to one of the larger plants, adding that the discovery began with a small-scale power outage nearby.

“Around 1:30 this morning, three local people lose power,” he said. “They call National Grid, National Grid responds, they start walking the line.”

National Grid had discovered that someone had started a fire using an accelerant, which burned a guide wire to an electrical pole located in a wooded area surrounding 161 Beaver Dam Road. This caused the pole to shift, and, ultimately, the power outage, according to a release from the sheriff’s office. When sheriff’s deputies arrived to investigate the incident, they noticed a white-colored, two-story brick building, which was fed electricity from the damaged pole.

The house stands at the top of a long, winding, bumpy dirt road, and appeared run down from the outside. Inside were four grow rooms, each containing close to 100 high-quality marijuana plants, and each room had groups of plants at different stages of growth.

Deputies could smell the marijuana as soon as they exited their cars to check the building’s power, the release said.

“This operation here, they’ve got to have close to 100 grand in weed,” Apple said, “and it’s self-sustaining. They’re doing reproduction after reproduction. There’s a calendar downstairs where they’re targeting when to water, when to feed, when to cut, when to cultivate — everything. So, we think this operation here is capable of producing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth.”

Apple said that the marijuana would be destroyed.

“What we didn’t know was, in the back corner of one room, there were four or five of these things that look almost like baby greenhouses,” he said, “and each one of them probably had 40 or 50 plants in it. We didn’t even see those on the first trip.”

The sheriff’s office also found a large, black safe, close to six feet tall, containing $30,000 in cash and a rifle.

“We also found a diary,” Apple went on, “which is perfect for a criminal case, because it’s got their journal entries about weed being sold; renting trucks; buying stuff from Hewitt’s; buying stuff from Hydro in Cohoes; rent being paid — it’s got everything.”

“The sad thing is, these guys are obviously pretty intelligent,” Apple concluded. “They’ve got a good system going; it’s too bad they couldn’t do something a bit more useful and productive with their intelligence.”

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