Self-proclaimed medical marijuana caregiver pleads not guilty to marijuana, weapons charges
PITTSFIELD -- A self-described medical marijuana caregiver pleaded not guilty on Thursday to 12 drug and weapons charges stemming from a 2013 raid of his home.
Members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force raided the home of 39-year-old Shaun P. Kelly, located at 374 Maple Street in Hinsdale, on June 21 and discovered an "extensive and complex indoor marijuana growing operation."
The investigation began in January 2013 after police received information from a "concerned citizen" and began surveillance on the home, according to a police report.
Police say they turned up 125 marijuana plants and eight large capacity feeding devices for a machine gun, along with grow lamps and other paraphernalia.
After police announced their presence and breached the home's back door after receiving no response, they found Kelly and his 25-year-old girlfriend in bed. Kelly handed one of the investigators a medical marijuana certificate from a Dr. Joseph L. Andrews Jr., of Cannamed of Boston.
Kelly allegedly told police he wasn't breaking any laws since he grew the plants for personal use and for "his patients" who had proper prescriptions for medical marijuana use.
He was advertising the business, "Berkshire Buds," on the Internet, according to police.
Kelly also set up a website asking for monetary support to help pay for his defense after being charged.
On the website, Kelly wrote that during the June raid police destroyed "his garden" and the plants' genetic lines and that he had numerous personal items seized by police. He alleged the investigators told him there were no medical marijuana laws in the state.
Kelly wrote that he had been "100 percent" in compliance with the law "as a patient and caregiver," calling his business a "Medical Marijuana Collective" that he started at the end of December 2012. He said he had stopped his "caregiving activities" in May while the Department of Public Health, which oversees the medical marijuana law, "worked things out."
Police saw it differently.
They alleged the amount of marijuana possessed by Kelly was "entirely inconsistent with mere personal use," and that he was selling marijuana to support his heroin habit. The raid allegedly turned up "hundreds of heroin bags containing residue" and police said Kelly admitted he was an addict.
Kelly, appearing with his attorney, Ryan D. Smith, pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday to 12 charges, including marijuana distribution, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, fraudulent use of a medical marijuana card and possession of heroin.
The most serious charges Kelly is facing are eight counts of possession of a large capacity feeding device for allegedly possessing AK-47 and AR-15 accessories. No actual weapon was found during the raid.
The charge carries a state prison sentence of 2 1/2 to 10 years.
Kelly remains free on personal recognizance. He is due back in court on June 11 for a pretrial hearing.
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