Thurston County sheriff's deputies seized about 100 marijuana plants from a barn adjacent to a home in the 4900 block of Cushman Road on Thursday morning, and a volunteer firefighter with the Graham Fire Department was placed under arrest on suspicion of operating a marijuana growing operation, according to a sheriff's report.
Henry Ruthchild-Cushman, 27, was released from the Thurston County Jail on Thursday after posting $5,000 bail, a jail official said. He has yet to be charged with a crime.
A sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office began an investigation after he got an anonymous note in his mailbox informing him there was a marijuana growing operation at the Cushman Road address, court papers state.
When the sheriff’s deputy went to the address Thursday, Ruthchild-Cushman appeared nervous, and refused to give the deputy permission to search the premises, according to a sheriff’s report.
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While at the property, the deputy could hear the sound of a large fan from the adjacent barn, and when he approached the barn, he could smell marijuana, the sheriff’s report states.
During the investigation, a woman told the deputy that she had left the note because she was jealous that Ruthchild-Cushman was dating someone else, but she said that the allegations in the note were false, and that she made them up because she was mad, according to the report.
But the deputy obtained a search warrant from a judge and discovered the marijuana growing operation in the barn’s attic, the report states. The operation included lighting and irrigation systems and fans, the report states. Deputies seized more than 100 marijuana plants, including 44 mature plants.
Ruthchild-Cushman told sheriff’s deputies he is a volunteer firefighter with the Graham Fire Department.
Ruthchild-Cushman could not be reached for comment Friday.
Graham Deputy Fire Chief Gary Franz confirmed Ruthchild-Cushman is a “resident firefighter,” the equivalent of a volunteer firefighter. Franz said Ruthchild-Cushman works regular shifts, about 50 hours a week, side-by-side with and under the supervision of a career firefighter.
Volunteer firefighters receive a nominal payment in return for their volunteer work but are not salaried, Franz said.
Franz did not know of Ruthchild-Cushman’s arrest.
“It’s concerning to me,” Franz said.
Franz said he was going to investigate the allegations. If a volunteer or career firefighter is charged with a crime, it is likely he or she would be placed on administrative leave, Franz said.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org