September 29, 2012

Documents show path that led to massive Maine pot bust

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Five people and a Maine timber company have been indicted on federal charges for their connection with a large marijuana growing operation that was uncovered in Washington County in 2009.

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Agents collected several items that they thought might have DNA on them, including rubber gloves, cigarette butts, toothbrushes and beer cans. Samples taken from those items eventually linked the operation to the Mexican man.

The samples were not submitted to the Maine State Police crime laboratory until 2011, at which point a profile was developed and put into a national database of offenders.

The delay may have been related to the death of Scott MacPherson. The documents say MacPherson killed himself on Feb. 18, 2011, just days before he was to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the case.

In April 2011, agents submitted 38 pieces of evidence from the marijuana farm to the crime lab for analysts to recover DNA.

The crime lab developed DNA profiles of seven men. None of them matched MacPherson's DNA.

The DNA did yield a "hit" with the Mexican man, whose DNA would have been on file because of his conviction.

Police conducted four other searches in connection with the drug raid in 2009. The court documents say seized records indicate that French, his company Cold Stream Construction and Russell bought items for the marijuana operation, including Promix potting soil, Rabbit Guard wire, fencing, pruning shears, large water-holding tanks and propane heaters.

French runs the land development and timber company Haynes Timberland with his wife, Barbara French, who was not listed in the federal indictments released earlier this week.

Haynes Timberland and the Frenches have bought, sold and managed numerous tracts of land throughout Maine over the years.

The name Haynes Timberland has created confusion about links to H.C. Haynes Inc., a much larger and better-known forest products company based in Winn.

The companies are entirely separate, and H.C. Haynes Inc. was not indicted or named in any court documents made public in the case.

Barbara French is the daughter of the late Herbert C. Haynes Sr., who started H.C. Haynes Inc., and apparently works or has worked in the company's main office.

The two companies have engaged in numerous land transactions since Haynes Timberland was incorporated by the Frenches in 2001.

In a letter sent to customers this week, H.C. Haynes President Jay Haynes (brother of Barbara French) stressed that his company was not involved in the marijuana case and that "our business is a separate company from Haynes Timberland, with a separate management team."

-- Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller contributed to this report.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald

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