Columbus man admits growing marijuana

MARIETTA – A Columbus-area man admitted Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to running an indoor marijuana-growing operation in Washington County.

James M. Mayle Jr., 53, of 3933 Three Rivers Lane, Groveport, was arrested in July while visiting a Cutler residence where authorities found 97 marijuana plants and six pounds of processed marijuana.

Mayle pleaded guilty to one third-degree felony count of illegal cultivation of marijuana, respectfully addressing every question posed by Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth with a “Yes, your honor” or “No, your honor”, and initially rising to address the judge.

The 1495 Clark Road home was owned by Mayle’s daughter, said Mayle’s Columbus-based attorney, Toki Clark.

The home had been under surveillance throughout June and July and agents from the Major Crimes Task Force had witnessed Mayle entering and leaving the property on multiple occasions, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings.

“On July 8, he returned with his 12-year-old grandson and turned on the power by switching on the main breaker box,” said Rings.

Agents from the Major Crimes Task Force executed a search warrant that day and found the main breaker controlled the ventilation system and timed lighting for an elaborate indoor marijuana-growing operation, he said.

Inside the residence were fans, flex ducts, potting soil, plant food, lighting, a drying room, and other tools used to produce and process marijuana, said Rings.

As part of Mayle’s guilty plea, all of that equipment will be subject to forfeiture, said Rings.

Investigators collected 3,734 grams of marijuana from the residence, including plants in various stages of growth and bags of processed marijuana.

Mayle was indicted in July on a second-degree felony count of illegal cultivation in the vicinity of a minor and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of criminal tools.

As part of the plea arrangement, the prosecution dropped the possession of criminal tools charge and amended the language referencing the juvenile grandson, reducing the cultivation charge to a third-degree felony.

Mayle agreed to pay a mimimum $5,000 fine in the case, said Rings.

Mayle also agreed to a forfeiture specification on the third-degree felony, agreeing to give up his Suzuki vehicle.

“He was the owner of the automobile in question and it was used to transport him to and from the place where (the crime) was committed,” said Rings.

Burnworth indicated that Mayle will face six months in the Washington County Jail and community control sanctions. However, that sentencing is subject to information in the pre-sentence investigation report, said Burnworth.

“If that turns up an extensive criminal history, beyond what the court is aware of, the court’s approval of that would go away,” he said.

Mayle is set to be sentenced in April.