OAKWOOD — A months-long investigation here culminated Thursday with the seizure of large marijuana plants and the arrest of a local man by the village police department.
A search warrant was executed Thursday morning at the residence of Gary Owens, 58, 106 E. Harmon St., resulting in the seizure of 26 plants, as well as a “substantial amount” of cash and “multiple drug instruments,” according to Gary Plotts, village police chief.
The residence is next to Oakwood Elementary School, thus enhancing the seriousness of the charge against Owens.
An initial appearance was held for him Friday in Paulding County Municipal Court via video on a charge of illegal cultivation, a second-degree felony.
Bond was set by Judge Suzanne Rister at $50,000 cash with a 10% allowance, and a preliminary hearing hearing was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday. Owens was being held Friday in Paulding County Jail.
The case is expected to be presented to a Paulding County grand jury in the future. Felony cases cannot be adjudicated in municipal court, where initial proceedings for such cases are held to determine bond matters. The preliminary hearing, if held, would only determine if there is probable cause to detain Owens on the charge.
According to Plotts, the 26 marijuana plants have a street value estimated at $30,000-$40,000.
“It’s a lot of marijuana,” he said. “I’m just glad to get it off the streets. It’s been a very lengthy investigation. ... That close to the schools, it was ridiculous to do that. ... He’s (Owens) a local guy we’ve been dealing with in the past.”
Owens has a number of criminal and traffic arrests over the years, according to Paulding County Municipal Court records.
Plotts credited Gary Smiddy, the village’s assistant police chief and school resource officer, for running with the investigation which began from complaints about an odor emanating from the area around Owens’ residence.
Oakwood police were assisted by the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, the Multi-Area Narcotics Unit based in Defiance, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Paulding County dog warden.
On the front page: Gary Smiddy, assistant police chief in Oakwood, and the elementary school’s resource officer, stands beside marijuana plants seized by his department on Thursday. The seizure followed a seven-month investigation, according to village police, and resulted in one person’s arrest.