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Court Documents Reveal Details Of Cannabis Grow Investigation

James Gram
Evan Johnson
Evan Johnson 10 May 2019

In the course of their eight-month investigation into Williston resident James Gram, law enforcement agencies subpoenaed his electric bills, conducted surveillance from the woods and the street and flew aircraft over to take pictures and analyze heat signatures of the suburban house he shared with roommates.

When Williston Police Department knocked on his door in January with a warrant, their search yielded processed cannabis, plants, cash and a ledger they said recorded a grow and sales operation that dated to 2017.

Note: Read the full affidavit at the end of the article

Gram was arrested and is now facing felony charges of cultivating and possessing cannabis. The combined penalties for the charges are 18 years in prison and/or $510,000 in fines.

Both Gram and his attorney Tim Fair declined to comment for this story, as the case is ongoing. However, public documents reveal the size and scope of the investigation.

According to the affidavit filed with Chittenden County Superior Court, in May of 2018, officer Travis Trybulski of Williston Police Department was notified of by Vermont State Police they had information about a potential grow operation on St. George Road in Williston, VT.

Trybulski identified the Vermont State Police’s source. The person, who is anonymous in the affidavit, said they had seen multiple cannabis plants growing in the basement and more in a backyard garden during the winter.

“I learned through Facebook he was a member of a band named ‘Gnomedad.’” the affidavit reads.

Trybulski consulted with Vermont Electric Co-Operative (VEC), who advised him the house had seen a “substantial power spike” during that period of time as well as in past years. Police also learned the utility bill at the house had been taken over in August of 2015 by 30-year-old James Gram.       

His first stop in learning more about the individual: Facebook.

“I learned through Facebook he was a member of a band named ‘Gnomedad.’” the affidavit reads.

On July 1, Vermont law legalized the possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis. Despite this, police opted to continue the operation.

“The information we had was that there was substantially more than two plants growing,” Trybulski said.

On Dec. 19, police submitted a search warrant requesting three random aerial thermal imaging observation flights over the residence and property for a 20 day period.

On July 23, 2018, wardens from Vermont Fish and Wildlife walked in the property from an adjacent power line behind the house.

“The wardens advised me they had in fact visually observed numerous marijuana plants on the property, however they could not determine the number due to vegetation, terrain, a barbed wire fence, and the fact that two large windows looked out over the back yard,” according to the affidavit.

On Aug. 8, Williston police flew on a Marijuana Eradication Team (MERT) flight over the house and took pictures.

Police and the MERT crew confirmed “it appeared there were at least two massive marijuana plants growing in the back yard of the residence, contained within a fenced garden.”

Gram told police he had an issue with chronic pain but had not sought out a medical cannabis card for the condition. He also said he did not know he was over the legal limit for cultivation or possession of cannabis.

In November of 2018, police requested Gram’s power records from VEC through a subpoena. On Dec. 19, police submitted a search warrant requesting three random aerial thermal imaging observation flights over the residence and property for a 20 day period. Due to the government shutdown, only two flights were completed, the first on Jan. 2.

While they didn’t see a venting system, which is usually common for indoor cannabis grows, heat signatures did identify some heat loss from an entryway to the basement and from a basement window.  

On Jan. 14, Trybulski applied for a search warrant. It was granted that same day by Judge Kevin Griffin.

Williston Police supervised by Vermont State Police, searched the house on Jan. 19. According to the affidavit, their search yielded 15.61 pounds of processed cannabis, nine mature plants and 20 immature plants. They also seized cultivation and drying equipment as well as presses and molds for extracting oil along with $7,300 in cash. Police also found ledgers indicating dates from 2017 through 2018 that organized amounts in grams, initials and dollar amounts.

Ledgers also indicated start-up costs, harvest times and yields.   

Gram told police he had an issue with chronic pain but had not sought out a medical cannabis card for the condition. He also said he did not know he was over the legal limit for cultivation or possession of cannabis.

Gram was cited and released, the plants and cannabis were destroyed.

The Full Affidavit:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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