A Washington County Circuit Court judge Thursday sentenced a Sharpsburg man to five years in prison after a jury found him guilty of running a marijuana-growing operation at a strip mall in Maugansville.
Judge Donald E. Beachley sentenced Chad Frobouck, 33, to serve 10 years in prison, but suspended five years of the sentence.
"We can't sanction this kind of conduct," Beachley said. "The intent was pure profit .... Your priorities were all wrong."
Beachley said two years of the sentence would be mandatory because Frobouck had a previous marijuana conviction in 1999.
The jury deliberated for two hours and 40 minutes before it found Frobouck guilty of four counts, including manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, use of drug paraphernalia and keeping or maintaining a common nuisance.
Beachley only imposed a sentence on the charge of manufacturing marijuana.
According to testimony, officers went to 18020 Maugans Ave. on Aug. 13, 2010, after the landlord called and said he found what seemed to be dozens of marijuana plants.
The landlord testified that he entered the building because Frobouck, who leased the space, was late with the rent.
Bryan Glines was among several agents from the Washington County Narcotics Task Force who were called to testify during the trial. He said agents found 86 small plants in the one room, 44 larger plants in another room and 22 plants in a bathroom.
Officers also found a number of pots, 5-gallon buckets, digital scales, artificial lighting and books that explained how to grow marijuana.
Frobouck's ex-wife, Ashley Alilio, told the court that Frobouck said he grew the marijuana to raise money to see their two children. Alilio said she lives in Florida and her ex-husband had visitation rights for two months during the summer.
She said she was concerned that their children might have seen the marijuana-growing operation while they were in Maryland visiting their father.
Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler conceded in closing arguments that authorities didn't catch Frobouck at the crime scene, but he was "on the hook" because he provided a place to grow the marijuana.
"If it's your doing to set this up on your property .... You're just as guilty," she said.
Pauler said the testimony of Frobouck's ex-wife also was incriminating.
Defense attorney Loren Villa acknowledged there was a "boatload" of marijuana, but said prosecutors failed to prove that Frobouck was the person who grew the marijuana.
She said Frobouck signed the lease in April 2009, and the marijuana wasn't confiscated until 15 months later.
Villa argued that a lease agreement didn't provide sufficient evidence for a conviction.
"What you didn't hear is that he did it," she told the jury. "The state is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt."
Frobouck also was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.