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Man arrested for growing pot

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Using information from a tip, police found nearly 50 marijuana plants at a residence and arrested a rural Columbus man.

Steven Piper, 52, was booked into the Bartholomew County Jail on charges of dealing marijuana, a Class D felony. If convicted, he could be sentenced to six months to three years in prison and receive a fine of up to $10,000.

The Columbus Police Department Narcotics Unit used the tip to locate a suspected indoor marijuana growing operation late Thursday night, according to a Columbus Police Department news release.

A total of 48 marijuana plants in various stages of maturity were found at 7262 E. County Road 250N, Columbus, which is Piper’s home, Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix said.

Detectives seized the plants and additional items, such as grow lights and paraphernalia, the release said.

The estimated street value of the suspected marijuana is $10,000, according to the release.

Maddix said 48 marijuana plants is a “decent size” for a marijuana growing operation in Columbus.

The Indiana State Police will collect, store and dry the plants and then weigh them to get an accurate weight. The charge against Piper could be increased to a Class C felony if the weight of the marijuana plants exceeds 10 pounds, Maddix said.

A Class C felony is punishable by two to eight years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000.

Columbus police don’t encounter many marijuana-growing operations, Maddix said.

Most of the marijuana is brought in from sources outside the county, he added.

Maddix said the anonymous tip from a concerned resident played an important role in the arrest.

“Every tip that comes into our police department is investigated. Some tips become lengthy investigations, while others result in a quick arrest. We continually encourage citizens to report suspicious activity and partner with us to keep our city safe,” Maddix said.

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