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DEA agent describes attempt to move pot

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday argued that two Central Point men collected medical marijuana growing permits from patients and used them to build a large-scale garden and funnel marijuana into the black market.

This marked the second day in the trial of Brian Wayne Simmons and Michael Scott Grantski, who face felony marijuana charges for their alleged part in illegal farms at Brian's Green Thumb Farm on East Gregory Road and another site on Dark Hollow Road.

The two plots were raided on Oct. 5, 2011, by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and several officers and deputies from local agencies.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Fong spent the bulk of the day asking DEA Special Agent Ron Wright about what authorities found on the grow sites.

Wright testified that a large moving truck and several cars transported marijuana buds off the property the night before the raids. He believes the suspects found out about the raids and tried to move as much marijuana off the East Gregory Road farm as possible before the morning of Oct. 5.

Wright played footage from seized surveillance cameras Simmons allegedly placed around the farm that showed the vehicles leaving the night before the raids.

Following Wright's testimony, Fong called a handful of witnesses who said they worked at the farm at various points in 2010 and 2011.

Among them was Heather Stites, who said she mostly worked at the farm's vegetable garden and lived there in the months before the raids.

Stites testified that several people came and went from the farm during the growing season. At one point, Fong asked her to describe her reaction at seeing the marijuana growing on the property.

"I was surprised," she said.

However, Stites said that she never saw a lot of money passed around the farm. She said Simmons never seemed to have a lot of money and that the only time she'd seen a money counter used on the property was to count $5 bills.

Prosecutors allege the farm was a large money-maker for Simmons and that he paid trimmers and other farm help hundreds of dollars for their labor.

Stites also said that Simmons and others were in the garden the night before the raid. She said they were pulling buds from plants until 3 a.m.

Others were called to the stand to testify that they came to Simmons to get their medical marijuana prescriptions filled and to work as trimmers to make money.

They said Simmons asked them to register as growers on the farm and that he would take care of their plants.

Susan Modee of Phoenix said she trimmed at the garden and soon allowed Simmons to grow under the OMMP card. She said she never met the patients she allegedly grew for and that she never tended to the plants.

Defense attorney Brian Butler noted that Simmons had made statements to these witnesses that he cared only for the patients' needs and never intended to make money off marijuana.

DEA agents photographed 455 large marijuana plants growing at the site. They seized the plants and found 2,000 pounds of semi-dry marijuana in a barn, court affidavits state. Afterward, agents dried the marijuana and found that it weighed 1,022 pounds.

Grantski is believed to have tended to the garden on Dark Hollow Road and made money off the profits.

Michael Reed Peru, 70, is expected to testify today. He reportedly served as the financial consultant of the operation. He recently pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess 100 or more marijuana plants.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.