Shippensburg man arraigned on pot charges

A Shippensburg man charged with growing marijuana in his King Street home was held for county court Wednesday and arraigned on separate theft charges, to boot.

Roy Arthur Mills was bound over for court by Magisterial District Judge Harold Bender despite claims by defense attorney Tim Barrouk that Mills was not the grower of 66 marijuana plants found in a “secret” room during a Dec. 3 search of his home at 324 E. King St. — an address that has attracted considerable attention from borough authorities.

Barrouk suggested that an unnamed person who lived with Mills and his wife for an unspecified time may have been responsible for the plants.

A state police undercover narcotics officer refuted that contention. The officer said that the cleverly concealed “grow room” was situated right beside Mills’ bedroom, and that Mills admitted on the day of the raid that the plants were his.

Bender added that Mills told him on the day of his arraignment on the drug charges that “it’s cheaper to grow it than to buy it these days.”

The undercover agent testified that access to the “grow room” was through a hall closet with shelves covering the removable rear wall. Once through that, the officer testified, there was a second door — this one with a rubber seal around its perimeter.

Inside the room, drug task force officers found 66 marijuana plants and 1.5 pounds of harvested marijuana.

Separate theft charges

In a separate case, Mills was arraigned on a theft charge, filed after he was accused of cashing a $2,236.74 check for an acquaintance who has no local bank account.

Police says Mills kept the cash and told the acquaintance the check had not yet cleared.

Mills was released on $10,000 unsecured bail on the theft charge. He is free on $50,000 bond for the drug charge.

No preliminary hearing date has been set for the theft charge.

Rental property issues

In discussion at Wednesday’s hearing, Mills divulged information relevant to ongoing enforcement issues between the Borough of Shippensburg and the owner of Mills’ rental residence at 324 E. King St.

The titled owner of the three-story house is King Street Trust, a Maryland company that has ignored requests by the borough since 1996 to permit inspection of the rental property as required by borough ordinance.

Prior to 1996, the property was owned by Troy Beam, who now says he is only a property manager for King Street Trust and has no ownership interest in the trust’s properties.

In November, borough officials served administrative search warrants at various borough addresses, including 324 E. King St.

At the time, Mills convinced borough solicitor Sam Wiser that the house was no longer a rental because he had a rent-to-own agreement and a deed to the property.

Police found the deed during their Dec. 2 search and say it is not a legal document since it has never been filed with the county recorder of deeds.

The deed was notarized Oct. 30, 2009, by Melvin Beam, Troy Beam’s father. It is signed by Nate Miller as an agent of King Street Trust.

According to the deed, $70,000 in “hand money” was transferred from Mills to the trust to seal the rent-to-own agreement.

In discussion aimed at identifying the owner and resident of the house at 324 E. King St., Mills told Bender Wednesday that no money was paid by him, aside from his $700 a month rent.

Mills told Bender he pays rent directly to Beam in cash or by money order, rather than by check.