GRAND RAPIDS -- Wednesday March 18 -- 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.
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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.
Courtesy PhotoEvidence: Authorities found Mason jars filled with marijuana buds inside David Mayo's house on Fuller Avenue NE in Plainfideld Township.
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
by John Agar
The Grand Rapids Press
Wednesday March 18, 2009, 8:33 AM