Pro-Pot Magazine Ad Buy Was Path To Bust

David Mayo, left, waits for his preliminary hearing with his attorney, Bruce Block.David Mayo, left, waits for his preliminary hearing with his attorney, Bruce Block.GRAND RAPIDS – Longtime Press sports columnist David Mayo, accused of growing marijuana in his Northeast Side home, was targeted for investigation after police tracked shipping invoices of a company that advertises in “High Times” magazine, court records showed.

Armed with that information, police sought utility bills, which showed Mayo’s electric use was more than twice that of his neighbors.

Police also put his home under surveillance and determined he did not bring his trash to the curb, which is common among marijuana growers, police said.

Investigators in early January also noted a “large amount of mold” under the eaves on the outside of his house, which suggested to them strong grow lights were being used inside the residence, heating the room where marijuana was being grown, and causing condensation on the exterior.

The allegations were contained in search-warrant affidavits made public this week.

Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Kelley confirmed police based the investigation on items shipped by companies that advertised in “High Times” and other pro-marijuana publications.

Mayo bought, “on 11 occasions, hydroponic growing equipment that is specialized in indoor marijuana growing,” according to sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Todd Butler, who said local authorities received information from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, a project of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“Operation Green Thumb has access to shipping invoices from suppliers who advertise their indoor marijuana-growing equipment in magazines such as ‘High Times.’ David Mayo bought his hydroponic equipment from one of the suppliers that do, in fact, advertise in this (manner).”

Mayo’s lawyer, Bruce Block, could not be reached for comment, but earlier said he was reviewing police information to determine whether he should challenge the reason officers had probable cause to enter Mayo’s Fuller Avenue NE house Jan. 19.

Mayo is suspended from The Press pending the legal outcome. He awaits trial on charges of growing from 20 to 200 plants, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, and a high-court misdemeanor charge of maintaining a drug house. Prosecutors have offered to reduce charges to a four-year felony if he pleads guilty.

Police say 71 marijuana plants and 32 ounces of packaged marijuana were found in the home.

Mayo’s wife, Denise, awaits trial on charges of marijuana possession and maintaining a drug house.

Both are free on personal recognizance bonds.

Mayo, with no prior criminal record, has worked for The Press since 1985.

– Article from The Grand Rapids Press on March 18, 2009.

Press columnist David Mayo’s lawyer says he is ‘appalled’ that police targeted Mayo for grow lights

by John Agar, The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS – The attorney for suspended Press columnist David Mayo said today he is “appalled” that police targeted his client for a marijuana bust at his home after Mayo bought grow lights from a company that advertises in “High Times” magazine.

An undercover drug unit searched Mayo’s Fuller Avenue NE home in January after tracking a shipment of planting supplies and finding his electric bill was double that of neighbors.

Attorney Bruce Block said police should have a higher standard to obtain a search warrant and said he would file a challenge in court.

“A man’s home is his castle,” Block said. “You should have a very good reason to go in there. I’m just appalled. I am just appalled. … It’s almost like search warrants are getting out of control. I guess I don’t know how else to say it.”

He said the tactic was “chilling” and should concern everyone. No one disputes the fact police found marijuana — plants at various stages of growth, and packed in mason jars — but Block said police had no right to go into Mayo’s home in the first place.

It would be different, he said, if police were called to Mayo’s home for another reason and spotted marijuana in plain view.

“Remember, these grow lights are legal,” Block said. “This is not illegal stuff. You’re not ordering something that is, per se, illegal.”

He also disputed the contention by police that Mayo does not put his trash out to the curb, a practice of marijuana manufacturers to prevent police from sifting through garbage.

“The home is the most private place that exists in the world and for good reason,” Block said.

Mayo is on unpaid suspension.

E-mail John Agar:[email protected]

– Article from The Grand Rapids Press on March 18, 2009.