Charges allege kids required to help Everett father grow pot

  • Mon Nov 22nd, 2010 6:16pm
  • News

By Diana Hefley Herald Writer

EVERETT — An Everett man accused of illegally growing marijuana also is facing a felony charge for involving his children in an indoor pot farm.

The kids told investigators that their parents, Brian and Jenny Sledge, have been growing and selling marijuana out of the family’s Everett home. They said that their dad has paid them to help tend the plants. The kids said their mom, made them brownies and Rice Krispies treats using marijuana “budder” that she keeps in the family’s refrigerator, according to court papers.

The Sledges had paperwork authorizing them to use and grow marijuana for medical purposes. The police maintain the amount seized was at least double what could be considered necessary for the Sledges’ care, according to investigators.

Prosecutors on Friday charged Brian Sledge, 39, with manufacturing marijuana and unlawfully involving minors in his growing operation. Jenny Sledge, 35, was charged with drug possession.

The Sledges are scheduled to be arraigned early next month. They remain free on their own personal recognizance since their Nov. 3 arrest.

The couple came to the attention of authorities after one of their children told state social workers and police that her father was growing marijuana in the basement of their home. The girl told authorities that she was “tired of always smelling like marijuana,” according to court papers.

The children, all in middle and high school, also told investigators that Brian Sledge had them help him mix soil, cut plants and hang them to dry. They said they’ve seen their father sell marijuana multiple times.

Detectives raided the house Nov. 3. The front and back doors were reinforced with metal brackets, and 2×4 boards barricaded the doors. Detectives found 29 marijuana plants growing in a closet in the master bedroom. In the basement, which was reached through a trap door underneath the stairs, detectives found 38 additional plants.

They found $5,000 in cash and marijuana “budder,” a butterlike substance produced by extracting the active chemical from the plants. The kids told investigators that their parents make “pot butter” and store it in the refrigerator.

The children told police that Brian Sledge had explained that they needed to help with the marijuana plants because the drugs helped pay the bills, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock wrote. The kids also said that after they were interviewed by authorities with Child Protective Services a few weeks earlier, Brian Sledge told them to deny helping him with the marijuana. They said he told them to lie to keep the family safe, Baldock wrote.

Brian Sledge has a prior felony conviction for manufacturing marijuana.

The Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force has taken steps to seize the couple’s house, alleging the Sledges have been paying for the house using the proceeds from selling marijuana.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.