Marijuana Clandestine Lab Busted in 55+ Utah Community

A marijuana clandestine lab was busted in a 55+ community located in Southern Utah and at least one person arrested was as senior citizen.

Semi-retired

Photo by: Mark

63 year old Richard James Hughes, a senior resident in the retirement community of SunRiver St. George was arrested after drug enforcement agents uncovered a marijuana lab Hughes and 38 year old Bradley Cameron Madsen were operating out of Hughes home and garage. Agents delivered a search warrant upon the house while unsuspecting neighbors in the peaceful neighborhood watched in disbelief. Authorities discovered an excessive amount of dried marijuana and equipment likely used to make Dab, a potent butane hash oil with a highly concentrated amount of THC. Dab is used to result in a stronger and more rapid high than normal smoking of marijuana would be able to produce. Hughes and Madsen were arrested on multiple charges including engaging in a clandestine laboratory operation.

Clandestine lab

Utah Code 58-37d-4 states “It is unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally . . . engage in compounding, synthesis, concentration, purification, separation, extraction, or other physical or chemical processing of any substance, including a controlled substance.” That section goes on the note that “a person who violates [this subsection] is guilty of a second degree felony punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term of not less than 3 years nor more than 15 years.”

Hobby or side job

Hughes’ neighbors were shocked to hear that a fellow resident in the popular retirement community was engaging in illegal activity involving operating a clandestine lab. Some may have wondered if he stumbled into a unorthodox hobby that came with legal hazards or if he picked up a “work from home” job to support himself financially, much like other residents trying to survive in one of the faster growing areas in Utah. Regardless of the reason, according to Utah law, he will have at least “3 years nor more than 15” to figure things out before he is released back into the community.

Utah Police Search for Driver Who Left the Scene of a Deadly Hit and Run

Utah Police are searching for the driver who left the scene of a deadly hit and run accident that occurred over the weekend in St. George.

Deadly hit and run

Photo by: Tony Webster

On Saturday evening sometime between 5 and 8pm, a Utah driver struck a woman walking along Dixie Drive in St. George, just south of a busy intersection. The driver then left the scene and the woman’s body was found later by other pedestrians walking by. The victim was identified by her daughters as 53 year old Bettina Abraham. It has not been announced if Abraham was killed instantly or died alone on the side of the road after being hit.

Plea via social media

In a live video cast from the St. George Police Department, a department spokeswoman pleaded with the public to come forward with any information related to events that evening or vehicles that may have been involved. They even beseeched the person responsible to contact them to let the victim’s family receive closure and allow things to “move forward”.

Causes and consequences of deadly accidents

When someone takes the life of another with their vehicle, they may or may not face criminal charges depending upon the circumstances:

• If it is found that the driver was not at fault when the deadly accident occurred, no citations would be given.

• If the driver made an error in driving that resulted in “the death of another” but that didn’t amount to being reckless or negligent, they may be charged with negligent homicide as stated in Utah Code 76-5-206, a class A misdemeanor.

Photo by: Chris Yarzab

• If a person is driving their vehicle recklessly such as through speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, etc. and causes a deadly accident, they may face second degree manslaughter as stated in Utah Code 76-5-205.

• If the driver was using what Utah Code 76-5-207.5 describes as a “handheld wireless communication device” when the accident occurred, they may face third or second degree felonies, depending on whether or not they were also driving in a criminally negligent manner.

• If the driver was “operat[ing] a motor vehicle in a negligent manner” and “is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug” they may be charged with automobile homicide, a third degree felony. If they were found to be driving in a “criminally negligent manner”, it would then be increased to a second degree felony.

Leaving the scene of an accident

Whether or not the driver was completely innocent when the deadly accident occurred or if they were acting in a criminal manner or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if the driver flees the scene, they will face felony charges. Utah Code 41-6a-401.5 states, The operator of a vehicle who has reason to believe that the operator may have been involved in an accident resulting in the death of a person shall: immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible without obstructing traffic more than in necessary; and remain at the scene of the accident until the operator has [given driver information, rendered aid to the other person, and contacted authorities]”.

Reasons to flea

There have been many public assumptions as to why the driver chose not to stop after striking Bettina Abraham with their vehicle. Some in the community claim the driver was texting, high, drunk, or maybe not a legal driver. Others guess the driver may have been scared or distraught and fled the scene out of emotional distress over what they had done. Whatever the reason, the driver should back themselves with a reputable attorney and turn themselves into the police immediately.

Utah Man Soliciting Sex Entrapped in Felony Charges for Conspiracy to Commit Child Rape

A southern Utah man who was soliciting sex online was instead entrapped in felony charges for conspiracy to commit child rape.

Married man looking for fun

Entrapped by Police

Photo by: Jakub Hlavaty

22 year old Taylor John Hummel of St. George Utah was arrested after he posted an ad on a website known for sexual solicitation and stated he was married and looking for “discreet fun”. Law enforcement officers who were screening the website saw the ad and responded to Hummel. The undercover officer told Hummel that she would trade sex for money and then offered her fictional teenager daughter for an addition cost. Although hesitant, Hummel discussed the details then agreed to the arrangements and set up a time to meet.

Not what he wanted

Once Hummel arrived at the meeting place, he handed the undercover officer enough money for sexual favors from her but he did not exchange money for her daughter. Hummel was apparently uncomfortable with the idea of having sexual relations with the teenager. Hummel was then arrested for a class B misdemeanor sexual solicitation for paying the undercover agent for sex. Surprisingly, he was also charged with first-degree felony conspiracy to commit child rape for briefly agreeing to the undercover agent’s offer of sexual favors from the teen.

Entrapped in felony charges

Photo by: Anna Nowak

Although Hummel admitted to soliciting sex online, he did not state in his ad nor ask the undercover agent to have sexual relations with a minor. The undercover officer was the one who offered the fictional teen to Hummel, who otherwise may have never considered his ad would reach a juvenile. For this reason, it appears Hummel may have been entrapped by officers who were looking for a bigger fish to fry and instead made something more out of a guy looking for a hookup.

Entrapment

Claiming entrapment can be tricky. Utah Code 76-2-303 states “Entrapment occurs when a peace officer or a person directed by or acting in cooperation with the officer induces the commission of an offense in order to obtain evidence of the commission for prosecution by methods creating a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by one not otherwise ready to commit it.” However the same section also notes “Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not constitute entrapment.”

Legal counsel

Photo by: jseliger2

So did the officer convince Hummel to agree to sex with a minor or did they merely offer Hummel the opportunity which he agreed to? Does the fact that he didn’t want to go through with it show that if not offered, he probably would not have ever asked? All individuals facing criminal charges should have a professional criminal defense attorney working their case. When cases involve potential entrapment, it is vital to have a knowledgeable defense on your side to ensure that everything is handled fairly.