No drug charges to be filed against contractor
January 16, 2014
A longtime local contractor who was the subject of a high-profile drug investigation in November will not face any criminal charges for cultivating marijuana or possessing and transporting controlled substances.
"I declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence," Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Oliver Pong said Tuesday.
Nevada County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force members had descended on six separate properties associated with Grady Jones, co-owner of Bobby Jones Concrete Construction, seizing more than 100 pounds of marijuana and more than 400 hydrocodone pills.
Detectives searched residences in the 18000 block of Old Coach Way and the 15000 block of Woodruff Court, which are off Highway 174 in the Chicago Park area, as well as two residences in the 13000 block of St. Ledger Forest and two properties in the 14000 block of Sweet Gum Lane, off Banner Lava Cap Road.
“I stand behind our investigation. Obviously, we felt we had enough probable cause to file charges, and that’s what we did …”
Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Tripp
Five of the properties are owned by Jones, and one is owned by his mother, Madelyn Jones.
Task Force members reportedly located marijuana under cultivation at all of the properties, and Jones and his girlfriend, Susan Mattheson, had medical marijuana recommendations at multiple locations.
Jones' attorney, Stephen Munkelt, hailed the decision by the District Attorney's Office, saying, "We are very pleased that a careful evaluation of the evidence … led to the decision not to file charges against Grady Jones, his mother or his tenants. We believe an unreliable informant made the Sheriff's Department think the evidence seized from Grady and from several tenants on his properties was part of a criminal conspiracy. Once all the facts were known, the District Attorney could see that all the drugs seized from Mr. Jones and his mother were legal medical prescriptions. There was no conspiracy."
"I stand behind our investigation," said Sheriff's Lt. Steve Tripp, who oversees the Narcotics Task Force. "Obviously, we felt we had enough probable cause to file charges, and that's what we did — we felt we had a strong enough case. But the decision not to file is up to the District Attorney's Office; they're the ones who have to try (the case)."
Munkelt also criticized the Sheriff's Office for issuing a press release regarding the drug seizure.
"Law enforcement needs to be even more careful than everyone else not to jump to conclusions," he said. "We hope the Sheriff will reassess the policy which led to a press release about 'drug charges' before the investigation was complete and well before charges were filed. Once those accusations are published, there is really no way to undo all the damage to a person's reputation — even if they are innocent."
Tripp defended the decision, alluding to the multiple properties involved and large amount of drugs found.
"This was not a small case," Tripp said. "We're not going to treat him differently than anyone else. … We didn't (publicize) it because of his position in the community. It had to do with the size of the case."
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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