Trapdoor uncovered in drugs, weapons bust at Grass Valley motel |

Trapdoor uncovered in drugs, weapons bust at Grass Valley motel

Fifteen people — including the manager — were arrested in a weapons and narcotics investigation Friday morning at a Grass Valley motel.

In the course of the investigation at the Holiday Lodge on East Main Street and Dorsey Drive, Grass Valley Police officers uncovered a trapdoor in one of the hotel rooms, which was reportedly used to stash drugs and/or flee from officers.

The string of arrests — 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. after Grass Valley Police officers were dispatched to investigate a report of tenants in rooms that were supposed to be vacant, said Grass Valley Police Sgt. Steve Johnson.

"We have, for several months, responded to complaints from other guests at the motel regarding this activity," Johnson said. "This time, we were able to locate suspects in a room."

Grass Valley Police officers previously had been investigating reports of drug activity at several motels on South Auburn Street, Johnson said.

"The owners had been very responsive," he said. "It seems like the (drug activity) had shifted to the Holiday Lodge in recent months."

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When officers entered one of the rooms that was unrented, they reportedly found several people inside, as well as nearly 2 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

In what became somewhat of a domino effect, information that was developed during that search led officers to a number of other rooms within the motel and the eventual arrest of 15 people, Johnson said.

The sheer volume of arrests required the jail to send its "paddy wagon" to transport the first wave of 10 suspects in custody.

More narcotics were found during the searches, as well as drug paraphernalia and multiple weapons, including a pistol-grip shotgun, a rifle, a 9mm handgun, five knives and a DIY billy club, several high-capacity magazines and a large quantity of ammunition, Johnson said.

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 for anyone in the room wanting to escape from the police.

Inside that same room, officers continued to uncover items such as a small Taser and even a D-cell "battery" that unscrewed to reveal a hidden compartment for drugs.

By mid-morning, Grass Valley code enforcement and fire officials had arrived to examine the buildings for structural issues.

"They noted numerous safety violations throughout the grounds, which will need to be corrected immediately," Johnson said.

After interviewing the motel's manager, Dawn Marie Olson, 43, Grass Valley Police officers arrested her on suspicion of maintaining a place for the sale and use of narcotics and criminal conspiracy. She was booked into county jail and released on $2,000 bail.

"We believe the manager was facilitating the activity by letting people stay in rooms off the books," Johnson said. "We are still investigating the extent of her involvement."

Derek Pinneo, 30, and Katelin Sulley, 30, each were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of probation.

Jesse Poff, 30, was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and was being held in lieu of $1,000 bail.

Michael Bowers, 45; Brandon Hodge, 26; Joseph Norton, 23; Dennis Ferguson, 25; Christine Sharsmitt, 32; and Aron Bendix, 43, each were charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sharsmitt faced an additional charge of violating probation, while Bendix also was charged with 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 three local warrants for drug and theft charges.

Four suspects faced weapons charges.

Travis McBride, 27, was booked on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a loaded firearm and possession of a firearm while committing a felony. He was being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.

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. His bail was not available as of press time.

Nicole Carman, 29, was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of a loaded firearm, booked and released on $10,000 bail.

Michael Cameron, 34, was arrested on suspicion of violation of parole, possession of metal knuckles, driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana.

He was being held in lieu of $11,926 bail.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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