Friday, August 24, 2007

A picture worth $100

BARRE/MONTPELIER Times Argus August 24, 2007 --

Cell phone picture of pot leads to bust

NEWPORT — A cell phone containing photographs of marijuana plants fell into the hands of police, who found their way to its owner and his growing operation, authorities said.

Peter Ste. Marie, 22, was charged with felony marijuana cultivation after admitting to growing about 20 plants for his use, Orleans County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Locke wrote in an affidavit.

An unidentified person found the phone and looked for pictures on it that might lead to the owner. When the person saw the marijuana plants pictured, the phone was turned over to the Sheriff's Department on Aug. 13. When police activated the phone, it showed the owner's name and the name of his business, Locke said.

The finder also told police there were pot plants growing off Stevens Mills Road, in Jay, near where the phone was found, according to Locke, who found about 30 plants growing on land owned by Ste. Marie's grandmother.

Ste. Marie, who told authorities his grandmother didn't know about the marijuana plants, pleaded not guilty to the cultivation charge Tuesday and was released on $100 bail.

There's a lesson to be learned in the case, Locke said Thursday.

"I don't think I'd be taking pictures of illegal things on my cell phone," he said.

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