The following criminal complaint has been filed in the Tucker County Magistrate Court:
Richard Dennis Bernier, Jr.: Hambleton, was charged with one count prohibited acts A; penalties. According to the complaint, on Wednesday, Aug. 26 Cpl. B.T. Zirk and Chief Deputy M.J. Sigley of the Tucker County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) received information of a possible marijuana grow in a garden off the west side of WV72 in Hambleton. The officers traveled to the area and observed from the roadway, in plain view, what appeared to be a marijuana plant growing in a garden off the west side of the highway. Sigley obtained photographic evidence of the plant from the roadway. The officers then traveled back to the Sheriff’s office and obtained other members of law enforcement including Sheriff B.K. Wilfong, Special Deputy T.L. Fluharty of the TCSO, TFC J.J. Schmidle of the West Virginia State Police (WVSP), Chief J.E. Kopec of the Parsons Police Department (PPD) and Humane Officer D.C. Baker. They returned to the location/property of the suspected marijuana grow, better described as 58 3rd St. Hambleton. Zirk and Wilfong traveled to the residence and attempted to make contact with the property owner, known as Richard Dennis Bernier, Jr. but were unable to. Zirk, Wilfong, Fluharty and Baker then traveled to the garden located on the north end of the property. Prior to entering the garden, the officers observed multiple plants of what is believed to be marijuana. They entered the garden and allegedly observed approximately 16 plants believed to be marijuana. Zirk obtained photographic evidence before, during and after the collection of the plants. Zirk and Wilfong carried the plants out of the garden and secured them in the bed of the TCSO’s pickup truck. Prior to leaving the scene, to obtain a search warrant for the remainder of the property, Mr. Bernier came to the front door of the residence. Zirk approached him and asked if he knew why law enforcement was there and Bernier stated no. While speaking with Bernier he allegedly indicated the plants in the garden that were on his property, were marijuana plants and they belonged to him. Zirk asked him if there was anything else we should know about and allegedly Bernier advised there were more plants by the backhoe. Zirk and Schmidle departed the scene to obtain a search warrant while the other officers remained on scene. Zirk received a phone call from Fluharty advising they located approximately nine more plants near the backhoe. Zirk and Schmidle obtained a search warrant and returned to the scene. Upon completion of the search warrant, two large plastic bags and a glass jar containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana were located inside the residence, as well as a scale, a grinder with the depiction of a marijuana leaf on the top and what is believed to be marijuana residue inside and a smoking device (bowl) containing what is believed to marijuana residue inside the device. Zirk read and explained D.P.S. Form 79 (interview and Miranda Rights Form) to Bernier to which he stated he understood, agreed to make a statement and signed. Within Bernier’s statement he allegedly advised he owns the property known as 58 3rd St, Hambleton, which includes the residence and garden. Bernier allegedly stated he knew the marijuana plants were there and that they are his. He advised he does not know the exact number of plants. He further advised the plants are for his personal use and that he does not sell them. While speaking with Bernier he allegedly advised the plants were not supposed to get that tall.