WALLA WALLA — A criminal drug case against a Burbank man that has been ongoing for 2½ years finally is reaching a conclusion in Walla Walla County Superior Court.
Timothy G. Casey, 53, of 425 E. Sunset Drive, was accused of felony charges related to the alleged unlawful growing of marijuana on his property in May 2011.
But in an agreement with the prosecution, Casey pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to possessing not more than 40 grams of the substance and using drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gabriel Acosta is recommending that when Casey is sentenced later he be given credit for the two days he served in the County Jail until he was released on cash bail following his arrest, be ordered to perform 20 hours of community service, and assessed various costs and fees.
In addition, Casey has agreed to forfeit firearms in the possession of the Sheriff’s Office.
Officials say 39 suspected marijuana plants were found in a metal shop in the back of Casey’s property when a search warrant was served May 27, 2011.
He could have faced close to five years in prison had he been convicted of initial charges of one count of manufacturing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school bus route stop and while armed with a firearm, and one count of possessing the controlled substance with the intent to deliver it.
But the case was reduced drastically for several reasons, Acosta told the Union-Bulletin.
Trial dates were postponed several times as Casey’s attorney, William McCool, contemplated a medical-marijuana defense and one of medical necessity under the common law.
The state Supreme Court recently ruled in a different case that such defenses can be used. Casey had a medical marijuana permit, under which generally not more than 15 plants are allowed. But the Supreme Court’s opinion means a defendant can argue in court he or she needed more marijuana for medical reasons.
The conclusion of Casey’s case is resulting in two criminal convictions, albeit misdemeanors, and compliance with the law, according to Acosta.
He said in the interview Casey has stopped using marijuana because of his job. Casey reportedly works for a company that contracts with the federal government for maintenance work in the Tri-Cities.
“The Prosecutor’s Office and law enforcement agreed the goals of what we wanted were met through the requirements of (Casey’s) work,” Acosta said.
He also pointed out that had the case gone to trial, some witnesses would be difficult to locate because the case is so old.
The shop in which the marijuana was found contained two grow rooms, one of which was behind a hidden wall and another that was under the floor, according to a Sheriff’s Office report filed in court.
Authorities also located a processing, packing and resale room in another metal building on the property, the Sheriff’s Office report says. Among items reportedly discovered were about five ounces of marijuana, a drying rack, scales and hundreds of various-sized plastic packaging bags.
During the search at the residence, authorities also found “a handful of firearms,” including two loaded handguns in the processing/packaging/resale room, the report says.
Casey was arrested, but was released from the County Jail when bail was posted.
Terry McConn can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8319.