MILLERSBURG -- After a judge ruled evidence seized during the search of a Big Prairie man's home could be used as evidence against him, despite a typographical error on the search warrant, the man on Tuesday, April 11, pleaded guilty to allegations of growing and possessing drugs.
Charles M. Bucher Sr., 62, of 13027 Township Road 511, pleaded guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to illegal cultivation of marijuana and possession of hashish. In exchange for his guilty plea, the state dismissed a related charge of illegal manufacture of drugs.
The state also agreed to dismiss a firearms specification to the possession charge, which would have added an additional mandatory year in prison to the potential penalty.
Bucher, who remains free on bond, is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on June 15, at which time he faces up to six years in prison. At that time, Judge Robert Rinfret has asked the state to provide an estimated street value for the 773 grams of hash recovered from Bucher's basement.
The charges originated with a July aerial eradication effort, which led investigators to the door of his home. There they saw marijuana growing outside the house and, in plain view, evidence of illegal activity inside the house, according to Holmes County Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Stryker, who prepared an affidavit and search warrant, which was signed by Holmes County Juvenile/Probate Judge Tom Lee.
During the search, conducted while Bucher was on vacation, officers found 31 marijuana plants, several baggies of marijuana, containers of hash and evidence Bucher was extracting the THC from marijuana to create hash. They also found a loaded rifle, which was seized, in the residence, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Despite the large quantities of drugs found on Bucher's property, defense attorney Dan Kaufman said the drugs were for Bucher's personal consumption and part of self-treatment for pain management and nerve damage.
While Bucher has a 1982 conviction in Holmes County for cultivation and 1989 in Wayne County for trafficking, Holmes County Assistant Prosecutor F. Christopher Oehl said he is unaware of any recent intelligence identifying Bucher as a dealer.
Nevertheless, Rinfret told Bucher, "A guy that has one plant growing, to me, that's self-consumption." But, with 31 plants and a large quantity of finished product, he added, "When I hear that, I don't think it's for personal consumption. I think it's for sale."
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.