Police find growing operation in home

County resident faces 10 charges of dealing, possession of marijuana after bust

HANCOCK COUNTY — The owner of a house in rural Hancock County faces 10 criminal charges after police found a marijuana-growing operation on his property, court records state.

Duston Hall, 33, 709 Alden Drive, Fortville, admitted to investigators he’d been growing marijuana for about a year inside an old farmhouse he owns near the intersection of county roads 500N and 200W, according to court documents.

Local investigators and Indiana State Police officers searched the farmhouse and Hall’s Fortville home last year. Inside both residences, they found equipment used to grow marijuana, eight plants and nearly 9 pounds of the drug that recently had been harvested, according to court documents. Police also discovered other illegal drugs, including ecstasy, court documents state.

Hall faces seven felonies and three misdemeanors.

His charges are: one Level 2 felony count of dealing a narcotic drug; one Level 5 felony count of dealing a narcotic drug; one Level 3 felony count of possession of a narcotic drug; one Level 5 felony count of corrupt business influence; one Level 6 felony count of possession of a narcotic drug; two Level 6 felony counts of maintaining a common nuisance; a Class A misdemeanor of dealing in marijuana; and two Class B misdemeanors of possession of marijuana.

An anonymous call led police to Hall, according to court documents. The tipster told law enforcement Hall owned a house in the 4900 block of North County Road 200W but used the place only to grow marijuana, court documents state.

Two police officers stopped by the house on County Road 200W one evening in September to talk with the homeowner, court documents state. No one was home, but a police dog that accompanied one of the officers indicated he could smell drugs around the property, court documents state.

A judge issued a search warrant, and officers searched the farmhouse.

They found little furniture inside; but three rooms appeared to be set up for growing, harvesting and drying plants, according to court documents.

The house was filled with various equipment, including florescent lights, empty pots and various chemicals, court documents state. The property also was furnished with surveillance equipment, including cameras and a computer, court document state.

Investigators also searched the Fortville home where Hall was living. There, they found marijuana and other narcotic drugs, court document state.

As part of their investigation, police checked NineStar Connect energy records associated with the house on County Road 200W. The one-story, two-bedroom house was using nearly $300 worth of electricity each month, according to court documents.

Energy records from a house of a similar size where two people were living garnered roughly $150 a month in energy charges, police said.

Growing marijuana often amounts to high energy bills, police said.

Hall appeared in Hancock Circuit Court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces. He was being held in the Hancock County Jail on a $8,000 cash bond at press time.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.