GLOVERSVILLE - Police on Friday seized the largest number of marijuana plants in city history, hauling 720 plants from a two-story Division Street home and arresting two of the occupants.
"That's a lot," Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said Friday of the quantity seized. "That's a significant number of plants to have."
Police raided the 14 Division St. home after securing a warrant through City Court Judge Vincent DeSantis.
Marijuana plants, guns, ammunition and other items confiscated during a drug raid in Gloversville on Friday are displayed at the Gloversville Police Department. Two men were charged during the raid, which yielded 720 marijuana plants — the largest pot bust in city history.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
City police Capt. Donald VanDeusen said Friday several city police officers and Montgomery County sheriff's deputies broke down a door at the back of the white apartment house at 8:34 a.m. Friday. Such force was used, he said, because the occupant, Richard K. Rudolph, 46, of Apt. 2, initially refused to let officers in.
After storming into the home, VanDeusen said officers found hundreds of marijuana plots growing from the first floor to the attic.
He said Rudolph and homeowner Darrin J. Newkirk, 40, of Apt. 1, surrendered peacefully.
Rudolph and Newkirk each were charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana and unlawfully growing cannabis without a license. Rudolph, a convicted felon, also was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Both were charged on misdemeanors and released on appearance tickets for future court dates in City Court.
VanDeusen said the arrests "certainly puts a big dent" in marijuana sales in the city. He said the suspects were cooperating and indicated they had been growing the plants for about nine months as a way to make money.
At a news conference Friday at the Gloversville Police Department, VanDeusen said the suspects may face felonies, depending on the quantity of marijuana seized in the bust, which still must be weighed.
VanDeusen said police seized 419 marijuana plants being grown by Rudolph and 301 plants from Newkirk. He said the two men were working together growing the marijuana. He also said many more plants were stashed in rooms throughout the house. VanDeusen said there were five "grow rooms" in the house.
"This is a very significant amount of marijuana," the detective said, putting the street value of the plants at $50,000.
The suspects face up to a year in the Fulton County Jail.
VanDeusen said it was not the largest drug bust Gloversville has ever seen, but it was the largest amount of marijuana plants seized from an indoor location in the city's history.
Also seized was $1,200 in cash, grow lights, some processed marijuana, several marijuana-related magazines, such as "High Times" and "Medical Marijuana," and one shotgun from each suspect's apartment.
Sira said suspects can be charged with felony third-degree criminal possession of marijuana if the amount is more than 8 ounces. But she said the plants must first be stored at a secure law enforcement location and quantified. Officers indicated Friday the plants will stay at Gloversville police headquarters through the judicial process.
City police had several vehicles parked on Division Street through Friday morning, and officers could be seen throughout the morning carrying numerous marijuana plants of varying sizes out of the residence and loading them into trucks. Many of the plants were in square, plastic crates or small cartons, like the kind normally used for garden flowers. A dog could be heard barking inside, but it was unclear if anyone else lived in the building other than Rudolph and Newkirk.
Jazmyn Calhoun, who had been a neighbor of the men since August, said she was unaware of the drug activity at 14 Division St.
"It's always quiet," Calhoun said. "You never hear anything."
VanDeusen said that in addition to growing marijuana indoors the traditional way, the suspects were "cloning" plants from a portion of plants that had already grown. He said the operation also involved initial efforts to grow plants indoors and transplant them outdoors when temperatures are warmer.
The investigation into the activity began by the Gloversville Police Department in November, VanDeusen said. The detective said city police weren't ready to act then, but information developed Thursday with the aid of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department prompted Friday morning's raid.
VanDeusen credited the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department with helping Gloversville police "complete" the investigation.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.