The owner of a Grass Valley motel, that was the site of a multiagency drug bust on May 30 notable for the sheer number of arrests, got a surprise last week while cleaning one of the suspects’ rooms.
Octogenarian James Ralph arrived in Grass Valley from Tennessee to set the Holiday Lodge to rights after 15 people — including the motel’s manager — were arrested on a variety of charges during an investigation that uncovered methamphetamine and other drugs and a number of guns, knives and ammunition, as well as a hidden trapdoor.
Ralph called Grass Valley Police Friday morning to inform them that he had located “some interesting items” in one of the rooms that had been vacated subsequent to the May 30 arrests, said Sgt. Steve Johnson.
“The owner is trying to clean the place up,” Johnson said. “They had stripped the sheets off the mattress, and there was what appeared to be a handgun and a knife in a sheath strapped to the side of the bed,”
The gun turned out to be a “very realistic” pellet gun and both items were collected for safekeeping.
“They weren’t illegal, just suspicious,” Johnson said.
The string of arrests at the motel on East Main Street and Dorsey Drive, which were made with the assistance of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force and the parole department, as well as a K-9, began at about 7 a.m. May 30 after Grass Valley Police received a report of tenants in rooms that were supposed to be vacant.
When officers entered one of the rooms, they reportedly found several people inside, as well as nearly 2 grams of meth and drug paraphernalia. A number of other rooms subsequently were searched; more narcotics reportedly were found, as well as a pistol-grip shotgun, a rifle, a 9mm handgun, five knives, a DIY billy club, several high-capacity magazines and a large quantity of ammunition.
In total, officers reportedly located a little more than 3 grams of meth, as well as small quantities of marijuana and prescription opiates.
One person tried to jump out a back window and flee but was arrested, Johnson said. In another room, officers found a trapdoor cut into the floor, under the carpet, that led to a basement storage unit. The space reportedly was used to stash contraband and also as a bolt hole.
The motel’s manager, Dawn Marie Olson, 43, was arrested on suspicion of maintaining a place for the sale and use of narcotics and criminal conspiracy.
Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Oliver Pong said he is still evaluating whether Olson can be prosecuted for running a place where drugs were regularly being used, adding that he is in the process of coordinating all the investigative reports.
So far, criminal complaints have been filed for five of those arrested.
“They’re trickling in,” Pong said.
Pong noted that many of the cases involve fairly small amounts of drugs, adding that he will look to add weapons enhancements where appropriate.
Jesse Poff, 30, has been charged with misdemeanor being under the influence of a controlled substance. Brandon Hodge, 26, and Joseph Norton, 23, each face a misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia. Travis McBride, 27, was charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. They all are set to be arraigned in Nevada County Superior Court on June 30.
Christine Sharsmitt, 32, has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. She is set to return to court June 30.
Criminal complaints have not yet been filed against nine of those arrested:
— Derek Pinneo, 30, and Katelin Sulley, 30, were arrested on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of probation. Sulley also faces additional charges of possessing a controlled substance in prison and willful poisoning of food.
— Michael Bowers, 45; Dennis Ferguson, 25; and Aron Bendix, 43, each were arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bendix also faces charges of resisting and delaying an officer.
— Timothy Brady, 22, was booked on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as on three local warrants for drug and theft charges.
— Cory Goodrich-Fordyce, 23, was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of high-capacity magazines, being a felon in possession of ammunition and violation of probation.
— Nicole Carman, 29, was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine and possession of a loaded firearm.
— Michael Cameron, 34, was arrested on suspicion of violation of parole, possession of metal knuckles, driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.