Officers find extensive marijuana-growing setup in woman's Kenwood home
A 65-year-old Duluth woman whose website says she has her own health, wellness and fitness business and who is listed in a religious newsletter as having served as a healer for a city church is accused along with her 34-year-old son of growing marijuana in the basement of their house across the street from Kenwood Edison Elementary School.
Carolyn Joanna Brooks and Robert Brooks Hoel were arraigned Thursday in St. Louis County District Court, each charged with felony sale of marijuana in the fourth degree in a school, park, public housing zone or drug treatment facility.
Tari Lee Lauer, the daughter and sister of the two defendants, reported them to the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force on Tuesday. She told an investigator that she had been at the defendants' house at 1738 Warren Ave. on Monday when she spotted a marijuana growing operation in the basement.
Lauer estimated that she saw 50 plants, along with a humidifier, venting and watering systems for the grow operation. She said her mother told her she was "having fun" and that she was "an old lady with no criminal history," and she would "take her chance," the complaint alleges.
The witness said her brother had a tougher attitude and threatened her. She told police that he warned her, "Keep your (expletive) mouth shut."
Lauer said she knew her brother to be a chronic drug user, longtime drug seller and a violent person. She told the News Tribune in an interview Thursday that her brother physically threatened her and she fears retaliation.
According to court records, 21 criminal cases have been filed against Hoel in six Minnesota counties. He was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to 64 months in prison in 1994. He also has a robbery conviction and has had five drug cases filed against him, including convictions for an attempted second-degree controlled substance crime in March 1998, a conviction for a fifth-degree controlled substance crime from January 1994, and a felony conviction for sale of a simulated drug from April 1994.
Hoel is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on $150,000 bail. Brooks is free on $40,000 bail. Both are next scheduled to be in court on July 14.
Brooks didn't return a recorded phone message seeking comment.
The drug and gang task force executed a search warrant, signed by Judge Dale Harris, at Brooks' home on Tuesday. Neither defendant would answer the door so officers used a breaching technique to enter the residence and found Brooks and Hoel inside.
Investigators found a grow room in the basement of the residence with 57 plants and hydroponic pots to start seedlings. The room contained a ventilation system, air filters, grow lights, a CO2 generator, a dehumidifier and a hydroponic system for growing the plans.
Officers found several pieces of marijuana plants floating in a toilet in a basement bathroom. Another hydroponic set-up not in use was found in a bathtub. A map of the hydroponic room detailing each plant also was found by officers.
Brooks was read a Miranda warning and declined to talk to police. Hoel asked to speak to an attorney.
According to her webpage, Brooks is owner of "Nurturring Nutrition," a health, wellness and fitness industry. She lists past experience as being vice president and advisory board member at Lake Superior Interfaith Community Church. A church newsletter lists Brooks as serving as a healer at the church last December. The church board president couldn't be reached for comment.