AMESBURY – A police report detailing the October 2018 arrests of two Carriage Hill Road residents included references to large amounts of cash accidentally burning in an oven and several pounds of marijuana ready for sale, according to Newburyport District Court records.
The people arrested, 40-year-old Charles Burnside and Julia Crouch, 20, were back in District Court on Wednesday to admit a judge or jury could find them guilty of two counts of marijuana distribution if the case went to trial.
Burnside was sentenced to a year in jail on both counts but the judge suspended all jail time for 18 months while he is on probation. The two charges against Crouch were continued without a finding for 18 months, meaning that if she stays out of trouble with the law, the charges would be dropped after that time.
Firefighters responded to an oven fire reported at a Carriage Hill Estates apartment about 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2018, according to Amesbury police Detective Raymond Landry's report.
Firefighters put out the fire and alerted police they found and removed a suitcase full of cash from the oven.
Deputy Fire Chief James Nolan told Landry and Officer Matthew Cunningham that firefighters also found drug paraphernalia in a bedroom closet.
"In another bedroom closet he (Nolan) found a large amount of money that was burned and bags of marijuana," Landry wrote in his report.
Several police officers, including Lt. Kevin Donovan and Sgt. Richard Poulin, searched the apartment and found more bags of marijuana, more cash and a large amount of what was later determined to be THC oil.
They also found Crouch, who said she burned her hands while removing the suitcase from the oven. She was later taken to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport for treatment.
Before leaving, however, Crouch told police she had moved into the apartment two months before with her boyfriend, Burnside. Police checked Burnside's record and learned he had been charged by Hamilton police with marijuana distribution in 2012.
At the hospital, Cunningham learned that before firefighters arrived, Crouch started yelling for help. That prompted a neighbor to run into the apartment and try to put out the oven fire with an extinguisher Crouch hadn't been able to use.
"(The neighbor) indicated that he saw burnt money on the floor, on the nearby counter top and in the oven," Landry wrote in his report.
Police obtained a warrant to search the apartment and found $52,353 bundled together with rubber bands in the suitcase.
"The door to the oven was open and there were pieces of burnt rubber bands inside the oven," Landry wrote. "There was also residue from the fire extinguisher in the kitchen, in the stove and on the kitchen counter top and floor."
Police found more money in a bedroom closet, some of it charred, as well as bags of marijuana and THC oil. In all, police found $114,755 in cash,11 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $50,000 and 81 boxes of liquid cannabis oil with a street value of $40,000. The marijuana and oil were packaged for sale, according to Landry's report.
Charges were then issued against Burnside and Crouch. They were arraigned in Newburyport District Court on Oct. 22, 2018, and released on personal recognizance.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.