$195,000 in alleged drug money discovered in Barrington woods

Barrington police would get the lion's share of the cash if the government seizes it.

BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) – Two suitcases stuffed with cash were found with the help of Barrington youths, and now the government has filed a document to seize $195,000, alleging it was possibly the profit from an illegal marijuana growing operation in Scituate.

One of the suitcases stuffed with cash was found wedged into a tree.

“The police noted a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the currency,” a federal court document stated.

The two cash stashes are named as defendants in the federal verified complaint filed last Thursday.

According to the document, the government is trying to seize the $195,000 based on laws that allow “civil forfeiture of monies involved in or used to facilitate drug trafficking.”

The document stated an unnamed Barrington parent brought a waterproof suitcase with $110,000 in it to the town’s police station on October 15, saying their child had found it the day before in the woods behind a home on Wampanoag Trail.

A parent had counted the money according to the document, with police counting it again with the assistance from a local bank.

The first suitcase “had two padlocks on it” and was discovered “by youths who were playing in the woods,” the filing stated. Barrington police searched “the same area, [and] noticed a second, similar looking case that appeared to have been wedged into a tree.”

The second suitcase also had two padlocks on it, and 42 bundles of cash that totaled $85,000 inside. The complaint indicated the money was secured in a way that “is consistent with how drug traffickers group money.”

Cranston Police K9 Zeus detected a controlled substance on the cash found in Barrington.

A Cranston Police officer and his K-9 Zeus joined the investigation, and the dog “alerted to the first case with the money, indicating Zeus detected the odor of a controlled substance.”

According to the filing, police later determined a 41-year-old man who lived in the home adjacent to the wooded area where the money was found, was on probation for illegally growing marijuana in Foster, where he was arrested in June of 2012.

The individual also had a criminal record in Connecticut, including several convictions for violating the controlled substance act, and weapons violations, the filing stated.

The document said investigators discovered the man had listed a Central Pike home in Scituate as his address, and that town’s police found another twist in the case.

“Scituate police indicated that the house listed as [his] residence in Scituate had [indications] of an indoor marijuana grow,” the document said.

The clues included a monthly electric bill of $1,374, and empty fertilizer bags and plastic seedling containers that were found in the trash at the Central Pike home, indicating a recently dismantled grow operation according to the filing.

The document stated the man possibly violated the terms of his probation if he did not tell his probation officer that he moved from Scituate to Barrington.

A suspected illegal grow-house potentially connected to the cash was discovered in Scituate.

Rhode Island Attorney General Public Information Officer Amy Kempe told Target 12, there are no records showing that individual violated his probation.

Kempe said court records show his motion to terminate the final two years of his probation was granted by a judge on November 28, about six weeks after the money was found.

There are no documented indications that the individual who listed the Barrington and Scituate homes as his addresses, or anyone else, has been charged in connection with the growing operation, or the $195,000.

Scituate Police Chief Donald Delaere said there are no incident reports or criminal charges connected to the Central Pike home.

Barrington Police Chief John Lacross said he could not comment about the investigation at this time.

Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Jim Martin said he could not comment on an ongoing matter before the court.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.