December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 19, 2002



Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Scott Brown, age 32, of Searsport was sentenced yesterday in Belfast on charges of Arson (class A), Trafficking in Hashish (class C), Attempted Trafficking in Hashish and Marijuana Cultivation (both class D).

The arson and drug charges stem from an investigation of a suspicious fire at a mobile home occupied by Brown at the Kinney Mobile Home Park in Searsport on January 5, 2002. Fire investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office determined that the cause of the fire was from an attempt to manufacture hashish, a concentrated form of marijuana, using acetone and an electric heating plate. Brown left a mixture of the highly flammable acetone and marijuana to "cook" on the heating plate while he left the residence to go ice fishing.

Firefighters from Searsport Fire Department responded and suppressed the resulting fire. Fire Chief Derek Dunbar was the first fire fighter to arrive at the scene. He was joined by three members of the Cook family, Ronald Cook, Terry Cook, Jr., Terry Cook, Sr., as well as Captain Peter Garcelon and second in command Herbert Kronholm. The residence was substantially destroyed. A large quantity of marijuana and other hashish manufacturing equipment was found in a subsequent search of the fire scene. Brown was convicted after a jury trial on October 17, 2002. Yesterday, Maine Superior Court Justice Donald Marden sentenced Brown, a first offender, to five years in prison, with all but 9 months and one day suspended, to be followed by 4 years probation on the felony charges, and six month sentences on the misdemeanor charges, all to run concurrent with each of the other sentences. Conditions of probation will include no use or possession of illegal drugs, random searches and drug testing, and drug abuse screening and counseling if needed. The court also ordered Brown to pay restitution to the investigating agencies for some of the cost of the investigation. His sentence will begin after the appeal of his conviction is resolved.

State Fire Marshal John Dean said, "Our investigation showed that Mr. Brown's conduct placed the responding firefighters at serious risk. Acetone has a very low flash point and creates explosive vapors. For the firefighters, it was more like walking into a bomb than walking into a home."

Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, who prosecuted the case, said, "This case writes a new chapter in the book of the dangers of drug manufacturing and trafficking. Mr. Brown's long sentence and the fact that the firefighters were unhurt are among the only happy endings in that book." Attorney General Rowe commended the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for their investigation in the case.