Two arrested in Edgartown, charged with dealing marijuana

Police seized plants and 1.2 pounds of marijuana packaged for distribution from a home on 13th Street North in Edgartown. — Photo courtesy of Edgartown Police Department

Acting on complaints from neighbors about drug activity, Edgartown police executed a search warrant on October 20, at 27 Thirteenth Street North. The search discovered a marijuana growing and distribution operation, police say.

Police arrested Gabriel Grasing, 35, listed in assessors’ records as the owner of the home. Also arrested was Jason Willoughby, 26.

“The investigation confirmed neighborhood suspicions,” Detective Sgt. Chris Dolby said in a written statement. “The search of the residence resulted in the discovery of two separate marijuana grows (total of 12 plants in various stages of growth), and another 1.2 pounds of marijuana in a variety of containers and plastic bags ready for distribution, and a prescription pill (suboxone).”

Daniel BenDavid, 48, of Oak Bluffs was present at the house when police arrived. Police issued a summons for Mr. BenDavid to appear in court for a probable cause hearing on a charge of possession of suboxone, a prescription narcotic.

The 13th Street North house is near Rainbow Place, a pre-school. State drug laws provide stiffer penalties for drug violations near schools and day care centers.

On October 20, Mr. Grasing was arraigned in Edgartown District Court, charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and a drug violation near a school.

Mr. Willoughby was charged with distribution of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and a drug violation near a school.

Two of the three men found at the house are currently facing charges in unrelated cases.

Mr. BenDavid is awaiting trial in Dukes County Superior Court in an unrelated case. He is under indictment, along with Stanley Johnson, 50, of Oak Bluffs, charged with stealing a safe containing $85,000 from a neighbor’s house.

In April, Mr. Willoughby was convicted in Edgartown District Court of distributing the prescription narcotic Xanax and sentenced to 90 days in a house of correction. That sentence was suspended for two years of probation.

At his arraignment Thursday, the court set bail at $250 on the recent arrest, but ordered Mr. Willoughby held without bail for violating probation on the previous case.

The court sent documents to the jail from both cases. Because of a mixup, jail deputies released Mr. Willoughby Thursday evening.

“They looked identical, but they weren’t,” Dukes County sheriff Michael McCormack said. “One was a bail out, the other one was not. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. We need to be a little more thorough.”

Mr. Willoughby left the Island aboard a Steamship Authority ferry Friday. By coincidence, Oak Bluffs police officer Jeff Trudell was also aboard the ferry, on his way to off-Island training. Mr. Trudell recognised Mr. Willoughby, checked with Island law enforcement officials regarding his status, and took him into custody.

Police did not consider Mr. Willoughby an escapee. He faces no additional charges for his release in error.