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Weed defendant gets probation in Camden case
WOODBINE -- A defendant who entered a guilty plea last week for his role in growing marijuana at two houses in St. Marys in 2010 has been sentenced to 10 years on probation for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Thomas E. McKinley, who appeared Monday in Camden County Superior Court, is also required to complete a drug treatment program.

Rocky Bridges, assistant district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, said McKinley's cooperation with investigators led to the sentence without prison.

Last week, Phillip "Stan" Smith was fined $75,000 and sentenced to five years in prison followed by five years' probation after he entered a guilty plea for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Two other defendants, Cleveland Monroe Miller and Troy Meridith, are awaiting sentencing on their guilty pleas for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Bridges said Miller will likely be sentenced next week and prosecutors are waiting for Meridith to be released from a halfway house before he is sentenced.

The defendants were each charged with two counts of conspiracy to violate the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, two counts of trafficking in marijuana, two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and two counts of possession of more than an ounce of marijuana.

The dual counts against each defendant were from evidence gathered at two residences where marijuana manufacturing operations were conducted.

Police discovered the first grow house when St. Marys firefighters responded to a generator fire in the garage of a rented house in the 200 block of Fourth Street.

After police entered the unoccupied structure, they said they discovered more than 750 marijuana plants.

Some of the plants were cuttings from adult marijuana plants that were being used to grow more adult plants, according to the indictment.

The investigation led authorities to another house in the 10 block of Oyster Street, where they said they discovered 90 marijuana plants and equipment to support the grow house operation, including portable air conditioners, a hydroponics pump, reflecting hoods and grow lights.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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