A Hebron man has been indicted for allegedly stealing hemp plants from a Washington County farm and then fleeing from police when they tried to arrest him.
Zachary R. Wagner, 25, was charged with felony criminal possession of stolen property and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and unlawful fleeing a police officer in connection with a chase Sept. 26 on Benn Road in Hebron.
When police stopped the minivan that fled from them that night, they found 12 mature plants that were later determined to be hemp stolen from a farm on nearby Chamberlain Mills Road.
A man who was arrested along with Wagner, identified in court records as Skylar M. Shaw, 24, of Salem, was not named in the indictment, but charges are still pending against him in Hebron Town Court.
One of the farm’s proprietors, Rebecca Rogers, told police the plants were among thousands that were being grown as part of a state-authorized pilot research program operated through Cornell University, according to court records.
She told the Washington County Sheriff’s Office that the plants, which were several feet tall, were worth about $150 apiece.
The plants are considered hemp and not marijuana because they have a lower content of THC, the substance in marijuana that gives users a high.
Rogers told police there is a security system that includes surveillance cameras on the fields.
Asked by sheriff’s officers after his arrest what he planned to do with the plants, Wagner replied, “Sell them,” according to court records. It was unclear whether he knew that the plants would not give users the “high” that marijuana users seek.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and was sent to Washington County Jail for lack of bail pending prosecution in Washington County Court. He faces up to 4 years in state prison.
His lawyer, Linda Richardson, said she had no comment on the case Thursday.