PROSPECT — A local farmer has been charged with cultivating marijuana after state and local authorities raided his property and seized 18 marijuana plants, 13 firearms and equipment used in a growing operation in October, court records show.
Christopher Caporaso, 46, of 176 Straitsville Road, also was charged on a warrant with possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana over 4 ounces with intent to sell.
He was arraigned Monday at Waterbury Superior Court before Judge Vernon Oliver. Caporaso is free on a $25,000 bond. His next court date is Jan. 14.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, at 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 23, members of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force with Prospect police officers executed a search warrant at Caporaso’s property, which included the main house and two detached garages.
The warrant shows that authorities found 17 marijuana plants in the basement; one glass container of a dark black-tar-like substance recognized as hashish; two clear plastic bags, each containing a green plantlike substance weighing about 1 pound; one glass Mason jar of a green ground-up substance weighing about 4 ounces; one clear plastic bag of a green plantlike substance weighing about 1 pound; and one clear plastic bag of a dried plantlike substance weighing about 2.1 pounds.
Authorities seized equipment including several marijuana grow lights, several electric fans and a food dehydrator, it states. They also seized 13 firearms, a digital scale, a Food Saver heat sealer and numerous empty heat-sealable bags.
During the search Caporaso arrived home and told authorities that he had one marijuana plant growing in the back greenhouse, according to the affidavit. He gave permission for police to search all three greenhouses.
Investigators seized one marijuana plant, plus one black plastic pot containing marijuana, the affidavit states. The marijuana inside the pot was packaged separately and weighed about 95 grams.
Caporaso owns the farm with his wife, Whitney Miller-Caporaso.
According to the affidavit, Caporaso admitted that the marijuana growing inside his residence, along with the drying marijuana, was his, and he adamantly denied his wife’s involvement in any of the illegal activities.
In his written statement, Caporaso said his wife stayed out of the basement and had nothing to do with what was found there.
Caporaso told state police that “he is not a drug dealer and doesn’t ‘sell’ his marijuana for profit,” the affidavit reads. But he admitted to police that he gives marijuana to friends, and barters marijuana for services.
His court file includes 15 letters of support from residents, neighbors and others. Several stated that Caporaso is a generous man who works hard and helps his neighbors.
“Chris is a generally good neighbor,” wrote Richard Blanc, of Coachlight Circle. “He’ll give you the shirt off his back to help you. He and his wife work long hours, day and night, to keep their farm productive.”
In February 2012, the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission determined that Caporaso and his wife wouldn’t be allowed to display and sell vegetables on site, which is a community supported agriculture. Under the CSA system, members pre-pay for a share of the farm’s produce at the beginning of the growing season and pick up their share once a week.
In August 2011, a cease-and-desist order had been issued for their property because the operation is considered a retail activity.
The Caporasos appealed that order to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The board denied their appeal.
The Caporasos filed an appeal at Waterbury Superior Court against the Zoning Board of Appeals. In May, the court upheld the zoning board’s decision, records show.