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Man who grew pot sentenced to translate Spanish June 8, 2005 - mcall.com
The Bucks County man who pleaded guilty to growing marijuana plants on Springfield Township property owned by a former police chief has been sentenced to a work-release term requiring him to perform community service as a translator for Spanish-speaking people.
Ryan Steel, 26, of Upper Makefield Township, was sentenced to a work-release term that will span a minimum of one day less than a year to a maximum of one day less than two years. Bucks County Judge Rea B. Boylan handed down the sentence last week. Steel will serve the term at the county's Men's Community Corrections Center, the minimum-security work-release facility in Doylestown Township.
Steel's attorney, John J. Kerrigan Jr., said his client, a construction worker, became fluent in Spanish while living in Mexico a few years ago. Steel will serve as a translator for Bucks County Court and county housing and health agencies that come into contact with Spanish-speaking individuals, Kerrigan said.
''His sentence has to be served in community service, and his community service will be translating Spanish into English,'' Kerrigan said.
Steel was charged in December with growing about 50 marijuana plants on property along School Road in Springfield owned by Robert Bell, the township's retired police chief. The plants were discovered on May 17, 2004, by Bell's son, Louis Bell, a Hilltown Township police officer who came across them while hunting on his father's property.
According to court records, Steel cleared four plots on the property and fenced them off using plastic-coated wire fencing. Police set up surveillance cameras and recorded Steel visiting the cultivation area three times in July, August and September. Court records said police were able to identify Steel by tracing his purchases of plant food, cable ties and black netting used to cover the plants through an Upper Bucks home center.
Steel pleaded guilty in March to possession of a controlled substance, criminal trespass and agricultural vandalism. Steel told police he selected Bell's property because of its remote location and did not know it was owned by the former chief.