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Defense attorney: accused pot grower’s landlord was acting as agent of police

LACONIA — The attorney representing a Governors Island man accused of growing marijuana in the home he rented has asked a Belknap County Superior Court judge for permission to depose the man's landlord.

Corey LaPlante, 28, formerly of 47 Blueberry Hill Road in Gilford, is charged with two counts of manufacturing marijuana, two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it, and one count of possession of marijuana.

Members of the N.H. State Drug Task force raided the home in October 2013 after learning from LaPlante's landlord that she had seen what she considered evidence of marijuana growing in the home she owned.

In court yesterday, Sisti asked for the court's permission to depose the landlord and if necessary to hold a hearing to determine whether or not she unlawfully entered LaPlante's home.

Sisti argued yesterday that she must have been in the home unlawfully prior to her announced visit because the affidavit prepared by police based on her alleged observations indicated the presence of a water filtration system that she could not have seen from the outside.

The landlord said she had been to the house on the day before her announced visit to assess some landscaping needs prior to her putting the home on the market.

Sisti argued yesterday that she went to the police with information she said she gathered from being outside the home, and the police told her to return to the house and bring someone with her. He argued that made her an agent of the police making her visit to the inside of the home unlawful.

The attorney said he was willing to put LaPlante on the stand to testify that when the landlord called him about the announced visit, he dismantled the water filtration system. So the only way the landlord could have seen it was if she was in his home before the announced visit.

In addition, Sisti said a second police officer called Public Service of New Hampshire and obtained LaPlante's electrical records. He noted that the records were included in the affidavit submitting seeking a warrant for the search meaning neither the police nor the landlord, again acting as an agent of the police, had the legal authority to view his client's electrical records.

"Once it got kicked into motion, there was a subpoena after the fact," he said. "How in the world they got that information is a mystery."

Sisti also asked that the Attorney General's office to make the landlord available for a deposition.

Assistant Attorney General James Vara said the landlord did not enter the house the first day she was there, but reported seeing the water filtration system in the basement from outside the house. He said taking a deposition from the landlord was unnecessary.

As to making the landlord available, Vara said she wasn't included on his witness list and if Sisti wanted to talk to her so badly, he had her contact information. "She's not a witness of ours," Vara said. "We have not obligation to make her available."

Vara said Sisti's argument for the deposition was based on "fluff."

Judge James O'Neill said he would rule on Sisti's deposition request before he would hear any motions to suppress any evidence gathered as a result of her information.

 
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