HOULTON – A Houlton man who was arrested last month for allegedly growing marijuana in the basement of his mother’s house to sell to help pay her property taxes made an initial appearance in court earlier this week.
Philip Salb, 24, appeared in Aroostook County Superior Court before Justice E. Allen Hunter. He was represented by David Edgar, a Houlton attorney, but did not enter a plea and remains free on bail.
Salb allegedly had 29 marijuana plants growing in the basement of his mother’s house when he was arrested by the Houlton Police Department.
During the brief court hearing Wednesday, Hunter told Salb that he had been charged with two counts of unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs, a Class C felony, and marijuana cultivation, a misdemeanor. The state also requested the forfeiture of Salb’s 1995 GMC Sonoma pickup truck, which they allege was used to facilitate crime related to drug activity.
Hunter ordered him to appear in court again on May 23.
Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin said last month that officers responded to the home at 10 State Street after Salb’s mother complained about the marijuana growing operation. She told police she found plastic bags filled with marijuana in a black duffel bag that was being stored inside an unused dog kennel in her basement. Asselin said the woman contacted Salb and informed him that she was calling the police. Salb apparently returned to the residence and removed the duffel bag before police arrived, Asselin said.
However, Officers Stewart Kennedy and Richard York discovered what appeared to be a marijuana growing operation in the basement. The officers located 29 small marijuana plants in a container, a growing light, plant pots with potting soil in them, several small plastic bags and a timer.
Kennedy contacted Salb by phone later that evening and Salb told him that he was growing the marijuana in order to raise money for his mother’s property taxes. Salb allegedly admitted to having the black duffel bag but indicated that only his clothes were in it. Kennedy asked Salb to come into the police department so he could show the officer that the only items he had in the bag were his clothes. Salb came to the police department, but Asselin said the clothing in the bag was for a person much larger than Salb. Officers also detected a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the bag.
Later that evening, Stewart and Kennedy located the missing bags of marijuana hidden in a black garbage bag in the backyard of a Park Street residence. Salb had reportedly asked the Park Street resident to hide the marijuana for him and the individual placed the marijuana in the black garbage bag.
Asselin said the weight of the marijuana exceeded two pounds.