PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The operators of what state and federal authorities said was a drug lab that used a highly flammable liquid to turn marijuana into the derivative butane hash oil (BHO) were sentenced Friday in federal court, almost three years after the clandestine operation destroyed a Providence mill building.
Christopher White received two years probation, mandatory drug testing and 100 hours of community service per year. He gave tearful testimony and apologized for what he had done. He said he was just trying to help his brother-in-law with the BHO production.
Graeme Marshall received two years probation plus 100 hours of community service per year. He did not speak in court.
Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. said he took into consideration the fact that both men were first-time offenders who did something stupid, adding he didn’t think jail time was appropriate.
As part of the plea agreement, the government dismissed 21 other counts of the indictments, including money laundering charges.
As first reported by Target 12 about a week after the March 10, 2015 fire, Providence Fire Department and state fire marshal investigators discovered butane tanks, tubes filled with marijuana and half-burned piles of marijuana on the floor of the 86,000 square-foot brick building located at 498 Kinsley Ave.
White’s indoor plant-growing equipment company, Grosca, was one of two tenants in the building, which also included the medical marijuana Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC).
At the time of the fire, Rhode Island Secretary of State corporate filings named White as the contact for the Cannabis Producer Association of New England, which was also based in the Kinsley Avenue facility.
The indictments, filed in March of 2016, stated White’s and Marshall’s alleged drug operation started in August of 2013, about 18 months before the fire.
At the time of the indictments, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the district of Rhode Island also filed charges in three other suspected BHO cases in three other communities.
One of those investigations is tied to a South Kingstown BHO lab explosion in July of 2015 that killed Brett Carrano, 27, of West Warwick.
Dillon Kantlehner is charged with endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance, and a calendar call for his trial is scheduled for next week.
The cases were Rhode Island’s first four indictments involving BHO, but were said to be among 10 alleged New England BHO labs that were busted in 2016. At the time, federal agents said they believed those investigations only scratched the surface of BHO’s prevalence in the region.