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Eight charged in pot bust granted bail

CP   2004-01-14 03:49:05  

BARRIE -- Eight of the nine men charged in Canada's largest indoor pot bust have been granted bail. They were arrested during a raid Friday night at a former Molson's brewery where police found a sophisticated marijuana growing operation that authorities estimate generated $100 million a year.

All but one of the men was allowed to go free on $10,000 cash bail -- providing the families could scrounge up the money.

Five of the families couldn't come up with the money yesterday, but promised they would have the cash by today.

"What am I supposed to do -- rob a bank?" said one distraught wife outside court.

Federal Crown attorney John Madden told court a provincial police officer had asked for the bail hearings to be adjourned pending further investigation, but the defence lawyers hotly objected to it.

"I don't know who this OPP officer is, but he is not a lawyer and he clearly does not know the law," said lawyer Randall Barrs, arguing his clients have been in jail since Friday and there was already a legal agreement on bail conditions.

"It is clearly against the law to have this case adjourned again," agreed lawyer Bernard Cugleman.

Only one of the bail hearings is to be contested and that hearing for Michael DiCicco, 60, of Toronto, was set for this morning.

Robert Bleich, 29, of Stayner, Ed MacAdam, 43, of Niagara Falls, and Scott Dillon, 23, of Toronto, all went home with family yesterday.

Scott Walker, 34, of St. Catharines, Zoran Stojanovic, 49, of St. Catharines, Tomas Gates, 33, of Corunna, and Craig Walker, 24, of Niagara Falls, were expected to leave jail today after the $10,000 in cash is paid.

All are charged with production and possession of a controlled substance.

The pot-growing factory in this city north of Toronto went undetected for a year or more, despite being the country's largest, police said.

Even those who had visited the building where 30,000 marijuana plants were sprouting said they didn't know it was there.

"I've been in the place several times and I didn't know what the hell was going on," a local businessperson said yesterday.

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