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Franklin man faces pot charges

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A Franklin man’s fingerprints were found on light bulbs and boxes inside an industrial building where nearly 500 marijuana plants were being grown, police said.

Jonathan Z. Baker, 31, was renting the building at 200 Eastview Drive where police found full-grown marijuana plants, seedlings, growing lights and an automated irrigation system to water the plants, according to a police report.

Baker became upset when talking with police, saying he knew what they found inside the building, wondering what charges he was facing and if he would be facing five or 10 years in prison, according to a police report.

Baker was charged with cultivating marijuana, a Class D felony, and was arrested Wednesday.

Investigators identified Baker early in the investigation of who was growing hundreds of marijuana plants in the building at Hurricane and Arvin roads, according to court records.

After a traffic stop in February, police found the growing operation inside the brick building that had been sealed with insulating wrap. An officer could smell marijuana during the stop, but it wasn’t coming from the vehicle. Police soon tracked the smell to a vent on the nearby building, got a search warrant and went inside.

The growing operation was using about 800 of the 2,400 square feet in the building. Police estimated the plants would produce about 31 pounds of marijuana.

Investigators found that one person was paying the utility bills and then used city records to track down Robert Clawson, the building’s owner.

Clawson told police he had no idea how the building was being used and that he had been renting it to Baker, the report said. Police had said the owner was told the renter was working on an invention and needed complete privacy.

Investigators then spoke with Baker’s longtime girlfriend, who told police she had been in the Eastview Drive building only once, shortly after they rented it, and did not know what went on inside.

She told police she paid the rent to Clawson in cash, the report said.

Police had said the growing operation was a complex system that could run on its own. They found a calendar tracking planting and harvest dates, expensive growing lights that could be moved up or down as plants grew, a circulating irrigation system that recycled its own water, and multiple automatic timers that would flip the various systems on and off as needed.

The woman, who told police she had been with Baker 15 years, said he often came home late and didn’t tell her what he had been doing.

Police later spoke with Baker, who said he would come to the police station after he got off work as a utility driller. He asked what police had found in the building but then said he knew what they had found and asked about possible criminal charges, the report said. Later, police said they had contacted the man renting the building, but he hired an attorney and was not talking to police.

Investigators found fingerprints inside the building and sent them to the Indiana State Police lab to be tested.

Baker also was identified by an Indianapolis store clerk as the man who bought two large dehumidifiers in February, after police found a receipt in the Eastview Drive building, the report said.

Earlier this month, police received results of fingerprint testing, which were a match to Baker, the report said.

Baker, 127 Highland Ave., was released from the Johnson County jail on $3,000 bond.

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