Arraignment delayed for defendants in North Adams pot bust


NORTH ADAMS -- The arraignments of Monique, Whitney and Makenzie Suters on drug possession charges have been delayed until Jan. 15, but police reports filed in court this week reveal more details about the allegations against them.

Each defendant faces charges of conspiracy to violate drug laws and two counts of class D drug possession with intent to distribute. Whitney Suters also has been charged with assault and battery on a police officer.

Police say they found a marijuana grow in the family’s home upon responding to a 911 hang-up call at the Suters’ East Quincy Street home on Jan. 4.

Though police initially charged the wrong Suters son, charges now will be filed against Makenzie, 19.

According to the police reports filed by North Adams Police officers Benjamin Austin and Trevor Manning, Monique Suters stated that she was "not a drug dealer and that she makes hemp oil from the marijuana to help cancer patients."

Whitney also denied being a drug dealer, according to the report.

Police say they seized 14 marijuana plants, 4 pounds of marijuana, sandwich-sized baggies, clear glassine baggies, seeds, a digital scale and fertilizer.

After his arrest, Whitney allegedly told police that he "owes $50,000 to his suppliers" for the marijuana that was seized, that his "store is $100,000 in debt," and "I was only doing it to help my family and the store."

Based on the size of the empty bags found in the house, police expect the Suters had already processed about 15 pounds of marijuana in addition to the roughly 4 pounds confiscated -- an estimated total value of $76,000.

The report estimates a profit of $2,400 per pound when sold by the quarter ounce.

Bill Rota, a Pittsfield-based attorney representing the Suters, did not return a request for comment on Friday.

The police reports filed in Northern Berkshire District also offer a description of the events leading up to Whitney’s arrest on Jan. 4.

That evening, Massachusetts State Police contacted North Adams Police after they received a 911 hang-up call of "a male and a female yelling" and "that there was a water problem," Austin stated.

When police arrived at the home they were allowed inside by Monique and Makenzie Suters, the report states.

Monique Suters asked Austin to check for a water shut-off valve in the basement, according to the report. Austin stated that he immediately smelled marijuana upon entering the basement, but checked for the valve near the water heater.

At the time, the report states, Whitney Suters came home, apologized to officers, and said he knew where the valve was located. He entered an adjacent room in the basement and closed the door behind him.

Austin stated he sent Officer David Lemieux to follow Whitney into the room in case Whitney needed help. When Lemieux entered the room, Whitney attempted to push the officer out, the report stated.

The officers arrested Whitney, who resisted, bringing them into the adjacent room, according to the report. It was in that room that they allegedly saw a jar of marijuana in an open cabinet. North Adams Police detectives were called in to assist, and a search warrant was requested and received, according to police.

Manning’s report notes that there was a heater at the entrance of the second room to keep it at "optimal growing temperature," and reflective insulation to maintain heat.

After Whitney Suters had been arrested for allegedly assaulting an officer, Makenzie Suters was allowed to drive two younger Suters children to their grandparents’ house, according to a report filed by North Adams Police Officer Trevor Manning.

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