2 charged with cultivating pot after neighbor alerts authorities

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ST. CROIX - Two young men have been released from jail on unsecured bonds after being charged with cultivating marijuana.

Eachan Simon, 25, of Mars Hill, and Claudiston Sonson, 21, of Estate Plessen, both appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks on Monday morning and were advised of their rights after being arrested and charged Saturday with cultivating marijuana, destruction of evidence and possession of a controlled substance.

According to court documents filed by Police Officer Darryl Walcott, he and his partner were called to a disturbance Saturday afternoon in Estate Grove Place and when they arrived they met a woman who complained that someone had tampered with plastic she had covering her window, and may have been trying to break into her home.

The woman also told police that her neighbors had been growing marijuana in their backyard.

When Walcott and his partner went behind the home, they saw Sonson walking along the fence line towards the back of the property where he began pulling up what was later confirmed to be potted marijuana plants.

According to police, he was ordered to stop pulling up the plants because they were now considered evidence. Sonson, however, continued pulling up the plants and was soon joined by Simon, who pulled up additional plants which they threw over the fence in the direction of the officers, according to the court documents.

Walcott and his partner called for assistance and the two men were arrested. Walcott said a total of 44 marijuana plants were seized.

During the hearing Monday, Assistant Public Defender Venetia Velasquez asked the court to allow both men released on unsecured bonds in the amount of bail that had been set at $10,000.

She said both men and their families are indigent and do not have the financial means for bail.

Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Poole Davis objected to an unsecured bond, saying that her office would want at least a minimum of 10 percent of the bond posted.

As the men both have clean criminal records, Velasquez countered they are prime candidates to be released on unsecured bond. She said Sonson is attending trade classes and is employed and while Simon is unemployed, he has an associate's degree in business administration and has been searching for work.

Willocks allowed the men to be released to individual third-party custodians and sign unsecured bonds in the amount of bail. He placed Sonson on a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew with the exception of when he is attending class and placed Simon on a 24-hour house arrest without an electronic monitoring device.

Willocks said it was hard for him to believe that Simon had a degree and was unemployed. He ordered him to go to the Labor Department to find a job.

Both men will be arraigned April 16.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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