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Ex-mayor found guilty of marijuana possession
    #5728510 - 06/08/06 11:23 PM (14 years, 8 months ago)


Ex-mayor found guilty of marijuana possession

By Carrie Petersen
For the Gazette-Times

BROWNSVILLE — Former mayor Kathleen Swayze was found guilty Wednesday of possession of more than an ounce of marijuana.

Swayze, 58, was tried in Linn County Circuit Court on the theory that she aided and abetted her husband, Dee, with his growing of marijuana.

Judge Rick McCormick, who heard the case without a jury, found Kathleen Swayze not guilty of manufacturing a controlled substance.

Four other charges were dismissed Tuesday during the first day of the trial.

A charge of manufacturing a controlled substance within a 1,000 feet of a school was dismissed because the school was actually the district office, prosecutor Heidi Sternhagen said during opening statements.

Also, the judge dismissed three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor after the defense asked for an acquittal on all the charges based on lack of evidence.

The Swayzes employed three teenage girls at their ceramics business and marijuana was discovered growing on the same property, according to prosecutors.

According to testimony by members of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, detectives served a search warrant Oct. 7, 2004, at the Swayzes’ business and residence, both in Brownsville.

According to the testimony, detectives found an outdoor marijuana grow, marijuana starter plants in a greenhouse and a shed designed for growing marijuana, all behind the business.

At the Swayzes’ residence was a “work room” connected to the house in which detectives found dried marijuana, packaging materials and other paraphernalia, according to testimony.

There was no marijuana found inside the business or inside the Swayzes’ living area.

According to testimony by Dee Swayze, who pleaded guilty last year to one count of manufacturing a controlled substance, the “work room” was his area and his wife didn’t go inside.

The outdoor grow, according to detectives, included 10 marijuana plants, each about 5 feet tall.

Kathleen Swayze testified that she was “stunned” when she discovered the plants about a week before the search. She said she told her husband to “get rid of it.”

She testified that she knew her husband grew marijuana and smoked it, but she didn’t approve of it. “I thought he was a responsible pot smoker ... because it didn’t involve anyone else,” she said.

Swayze said that she attempted to disassociate herself from her husband’s marijuana grow and use.

Following the verdict, Swayze’s attorney, Shaun McCrea said, “We’re obviously disappointed with the verdict on the possession count but we feel we got a fair trial before Judge McCormick and we understand based on the definition of constructive possession under Oregon law, he felt that he had no choice but to find that Kathleen was in possession even though it was unwilling possession.”

Sentencing is scheduled for July 12. The possible prison sentence is 16 to 18 months, but Swayze will be eligible for probation, Sternhagen said.

Swayze was mayor of Brownsville when she was arrested in October 2004. She resigned shortly afterward.


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