West Tisbury man charged for growing pot
Spencer Binney, 27, of West Tisbury will be arraigned in Edgartown District Court on October 23 on a charge of cultivating marijuana.
On August 6, as part of an aerial search for marijuana plants, helicopter pilots directed State Police to a home at 139 Skiffs Lane. Spencer Binney's father, Laury Binney, who is principal of the Oak Bluffs School, owns the property. Spencer Binney was summonsed to court, and following a show cause hearing last week, clerk-magistrate Liza Williamson found probable cause to bring charges against him. The minimum penalty for a conviction on cultivation of marijuana is a $500 fine. The maximum penalty is two years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
According to court records, police found 96 marijuana plants "in and around" the Skiffs Lane property, on the deck of an outbuilding, and in a fenced garden. Spencer Binney's mother, Marcy Klapper, was at home on August 6, when the helicopter search discovered the plants. Ms. Klapper, who is a teacher at the West Tisbury School, told police that her son used the outbuilding as a recording studio.
According to the police report used in the application for the criminal complaint, Ms. Klapper consented to a search of the outbuilding, where a container and baggie containing 80 marijuana seeds were discovered.
Police called Spencer Binney on his mobile phone, and summoned him to the property.
"Spencer acknowledged that the plants on the porch and garden were his but said not all the plants 'over there' were his, as he gestured to the area where the majority of plants were located," according to the police report. "Initially, Spencer stated that he only had a few plants. Spencer then admitted to having 14 plants. When more than 14 were counted near Spencer's recording studio, he acknowledged that the plants were all his."
The police report explains that many plants growing in pots were visible from the yard of the Binney home: "The potted plants were in plain view from the common yard area between the main house and the out building."
In a phone conversation with The Times Tuesday, Laury Binney vigorously denied the police report's description of the locations of the pot plants.
"I would absolutely dispute that," Mr. Binney said. He declined any other comment, saying he would not comment while the case is in court.
State police conduct marijuana eradication throughout the state, using National Guard helicopters. Residents of the Skiffs Lane neighborhood have complained about the loud aircraft, which have flown over that neighborhood for several years in a row. The helicopter searches are part training mission, part marijuana eradication program. Police target Martha's Vineyard at least once each year.