SJC sheriff: 'This was an industrial grow house'

SJC Couple accused of growing marijuana arrested again, charged with intent to sell

By Heather Leigh - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A St. Johns County couple charged with growing marijuana who won the right to return to their home were arrested again Monday. Scott and Marsha Yandell are now charged with possession with intent to manufacture and sell, renting a home for the purpose of manufacturing a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Investigators said they found four dozen cannabis plants, growing supplies and materials for manufacturing hash oil inside. When the Yandells bonded out on the initial charges, the county barred them from returning to the home.

The couple, who claimed they were growing marijuana for medical purposes, appealed that restriction to a federal judge, who ordered the county to allow the Yandells back into their home for at least the next 10 days because they posed no immediate danger to the community.

An appeals hearing was scheduled for Monday afternoon in St. Johns County, but News4Jax learned that the hearing was canceled because the Yandells were back in the St. Johns County jail on charges of trafficking in marijuana.

At an afternoon news conference, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar wanted to dispel any notion that the couple was growing marijuana for health purposes.

"This was an industrial grow house," Shoar said.

Shoar said that while he personally is a supporter of medical marijuana, even mothers in the county who are in need of cannabis for their children knew this couple wasn't sincere.

"They have gone to great lengths to try and construct a narrative, if you will, about this case," Shoar said. "They have used terms like 'witch hunt;' they have used terms like 'medical necessity,' and all those other things. This is about nothing more than public safety and our neighborhoods and our kids."

UNCUT:  St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar's news conference

Shoar said the tip they received about the Yandells' operation came from their investor, who was getting paid off in smokeable marijuana until the couple thought they'd paid enough and cut him off. Shoar added that when the tipster didn't think law enforcement was responding fast enough, he called in an anonymous complaint of shots fired in the neighborhood, "exposing law enforcement to danger having to respond."

Shoar said one of his office's investigative techniques is to examine trash coming out of the home.

"There was enough marijuana and marijuana-associated items in those plastic bags on the curb to keep an entire middle school high for an entire summer," Shaor said, adding there is a middle school less than 1 mile from the Yandells' house.

The Yandells' legal administrator, Christopher Ralph, said the Sheriff's Office has not given him any proof that more than 509 grams of marijuana was found.

"There is no change in the status of this," Ralph said in a statement. "We have copies of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office statements saying they took 40 pounds of marijuana. The inventory reports after the raid say 509 grams of marijuana were taken. Either 39 pounds of marijuana is missing or someone at the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is pulling tall tales about what they found."

People in the neighborhood said they they didn't like the idea of the couple of ever being allowed back in the home.

"I don't want that in my neighborhood. I don't want that near my kids," said Jessica Hartsoe.  


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