Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando couple avoids prison on marijuana-growing charges

BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville couple who said they were running a marijuana-growing operation in their home because they needed the money to pay medical bills will avoid jail time.

Rhonda Quince, 44, and Jeffrey Scott Wagner, 51, each faced a single count of cultivation of marijuana. If convicted of the third-degree felony, they could have faced mandatory minimum five-year prison sentences.

But on May 6, Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing decided to defer prosecution against them and ordered them into a pretrial intervention program.

Under the program, which is for offenders without previous criminal records, Quince and Wagner will have to serve probation, do community service and pay for court costs. If they are successful, the charges will be dismissed.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office reports deputies learned of the grow operation at the couple's home at 12491 Sun Road after receiving a tip last month. During a search of the home, authorities found more than 130 marijuana plants, a bag containing 37 decomposing plants and other equipment common to grow operations, according to an arrest affidavit.

Most of the plants were kept in the house under an artificial light, the report said. Others were grown in an open area surrounded by a 6-foot-high privacy fence near an aluminum shed in their back yard.

Quince later told the Times she decided to grow marijuana at her home out of desperation: Wagner's medical troubles had drained their savings; their bills were mounting; and she had few job prospects, having been a housewife for much of her life.

That's when she says she found a couple of Web sites that sold marijuana seeds.

"I figured I'd give it a shot," Quince told the Times. "I thought I might be able to sell it and pay some bills."

But her efforts mostly fell short: most of the plants died before she had a chance to harvest them. And even if she had produced a healthy crop, Quince said, she had no idea how she would have sold the plants.

Public defender Michael Amico said Rushing was initially reluctant to consider pretrial intervention because of the number of large grow-house operations discovered across Hernando County in recent years.

But after learning about the scale of their operation, Amico said, Rushing relented.

A message left for Quince and Wagner at their home Thursday wasn't immediately returned.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joel[email protected] or (352) 754-6120. You can follow Joel on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jandersontimes.

Hernando couple avoids prison on marijuana-growing charges 05/13/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 5:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.