Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Wife gets deal in pot case

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A 41-year-old woman who faced up to 18 months in prison for helping grow pot in her back yard got a break Monday when she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of permitting drug abuse.

        Tommie Lynn Crisenbery of Lebanon was placed on probation for one year on the misdemeanor charge after a special prosecutor offered her a plea bargain and dropped a felony charge of complicity to cultivate marijuana.

        Visiting Judge John Meagher suspended a six-month sentence and a fine of $1,000 during the hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court. He also suspended Mrs. Crisenbery's driver license for six months but allowed the suspension to run concurrent with another she received in November on a drunken driving conviction.

        Her lawyer, Charles Rittgers, said his client was aware that her estranged husband, Steven Crisenbery, was involved with marijuana. Mr. Crisenbery, who is the son of Warren County Commissioner Larry Crisenbery, has filed for divorce since the July arrest.

        “I don't believe she aided it, other than she did nothing to prevent him,” Mr. Ritt gers said.

        But John Burke, head of the Warren County Drug Task Force, suggested there was more to the plea bargain. “It was determined that because of the softening of the testimony of a witness, we had to do what's right and what's feasible.”

        He would not identify the witness.

        The Crisenberys' 15-year-old daughter told police about her parents' activities after a friend's mother overheard her talking about the marijuana and reported it to authorities.

        The girl later provided photographs, and told investigators her mother tended the illegal plants, police said..

        Mrs. Crisenbery and her husband were arrested July 13 after members of the Warren County Drug Task Force raided their East Warren Street home. Drug agents said they found two large marijuana plants growing in the back yard, and equipment for growing marijuana in the basement.

        A charge of cultivation of marijuana was dismissed against Mr. Crisenbery when he pleaded guilty in August to a single count of preparing drugs for sale.

        He was sentenced to serve 30 days on weekends at the Warren County Jail and to three years of probation.


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