Leaky pipes lead to pot find in North Adams


Update: As of Wednesday, Jan. 8, charges against Colter Suters, 21, are on hold after police say he may have been mistaken for another sibling. Colter, Whitney and Monique Suters were charged with drug possession on Tuesday after police allegedly found marijuana in their home.

"Mrs. Suters possibly inaccurately identified which son was in the home," said North Adams Police Det. John LeClair on Wednesday. "We are trying to confirm that."

Additionally, Whitney Suters arrived at his house after police were already at the scene. Although not filed on Tuesday, he also will be charged with assault and battery on a police officer, according to police.

NORTH ADAMS -- Three family members are facing drug charges after officers searching for a broken water pipe discovered an apparent marijuana-growing operation in their basement, according to North Adams Police.

Monique and Whitney Suters, and their son Colter Suters, 21, all are facing charges relating to the drugs, which police found while executing a search warrant early Sunday.

Police visited the home for the first time on Saturday in response to a 911 hang-up call from the family's East Quincy Street home, police said.

When officers arrived they were told by Monique, 44, that the cellar was flooding because a water pipe had broken, according to a police press release. Monique then asked police, who had called in for assistance from the North Adams Fire Department and the city wire inspector, to find the water shut-off valve.

While searching in the cellar, Whitney, 46, told officers that the shut-off valve was in a separate room. When officers attempted to follow him inside, police said, he pushed them -- resulting in an arrest for assault and battery on a police officer.

Officers detected a strong odor of marijuana and "evidence indicative of cultivation of marijuana," according to the report. Police then requested and obtained a search warrant for the house.

The officers executed the search at 6:40 a.m. Sunday and discovered two pounds of marijuana in the cellar, as well as plastic bags and a digital scale. There also was a lighting system and soil for growing, according to the report.

Two more pounds of pot was found in a second-floor closet, the report said. Each pound is worth about $4,000, according to police.

Monique and Colter allegedly tried to hide marijuana plants by bringing them upstairs and placing them in black trash bags, the report said.

The Suters each will be arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on Friday with cultivation of a class D drug, possession with intent to distribute a class D drug, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

When reached by phone, Whitney declined to comment other than to specify that police arrived after a "911 call was made to the Fire Department," and that it was not a raid.

"The facts of the case can be put out there," he said.

A Facebook post on the North Adams Police Department about the charges on Sunday became divisive, with many commenters arguing that the department should focus on harder drugs. It has garnered 277 comments as of this writing.

"We enforce the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," said North Adams Police Sgt. James Burdick, "whether we agree with them or we don't agree with them."

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