Crime

Man pleads not guilty to making hash oil in Puyallup deputy mayor’s building

A man suspected of growing marijuana and extracting hash oil in a building owned by Puyallup’s deputy mayor was charged Thursday with six felonies.

Not-guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Andre Arthur Lempriere, 50, at his arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court.

He is charged with two counts of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful use of a building for drug purposes, unlawful possession of a firearm while not being a citizen of the United States, and reckless endangerment.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered Lempriere jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail.

The British citizen also is suspected of being in the United States illegally and is being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Lempriere was arrested Wednesday after local and federal officials raided a commercial building owned by Deputy Mayor John Hopkins, a marijuana dispensary called Medical Releaf Organics and the defendant’s residence.

Hopkins, who rented the commercial building to Lempriere, has not been arrested or charged.

He told reporters Wednesday he knew his tenant was interested in starting a marijuana business but was unaware he’d gone ahead with his plans without first getting the necessary licenses.

In the commercial building, agents found equipment used for extracting hash oil from marijuana, including a “stainless steel closed-loop extraction system,” recapturing pumps, hot plates and pressure gauges, court records show.

They also seized 95 marijuana plants and “hydroponic tanks, thermometers, filter ballasts, grow lights and potting soil,” records show.

At Lampriere’s home, investigators found 14 firearms and marijuana-related items, including seeds, the records show.

At the dispensary, they found various THC- and hash oil-infused products, many of them labeled with a logo also found at the commercial building, the records show.

“The investigation is ongoing and the state anticipates charging more suspects and filing additional counts and enhancements,” deputy prosecutor Maureen Goodman wrote in a declaration for probable cause.

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