Commack (WALK) - A Kings Park man is free on bail after his arrest for allegedly cultivating dozens of marijuana plants in a local sump.
Police were staked-out and waiting not far from the sump in Commack, near Motor Parkway and Red Leaf Lane, when Mark Kern (photo) and another man arrived shortly after 10:00 p.m. Wednesday. The men were equipped to tend the garden of approximately 100 plants. Kern was arrested, the other man fled, said police.
The arrest of Kern, 54, followed a four-month investigation, dubbed "Operation Green Thumb," that was launched after two Smithtown highway department employees found the plants in May. The pot farm was described as a 30' by 40' plot, in a heavily-wooded area about 30 feet off Motor Parkway. Suspects had cut a hole in a fence to gain access, said police.
The plot was kept under surveillance by members of the Smithtown Public Safety Department, Suffolk Police, and federal authorities. At least two people were observed tending the patch, watering and fertilizing once or twice per week, but no plants were harvested so no marijuana was sold, according to police.
Kern, a father of three, was arraigned Thursday and charged with criminal possession of marijuana (a felony), criminal trespass, and resisting arrest. He was released and scheduled to return to court October 2.
Photo: Suffolk Police