By Patrick Yost editor
In a joint investigation, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office investigators and Madison Police Department investigators halted a marijuana growing operation at an Apalachee Woods Trail residence and arrested a woman allegedly behind the operation. According to Captain Chris Bish, criminal investigations division, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Meredith Stephens Ashworth, 44, Buckhead, was arrested on Monday, December 8 after officers performed a search warrant of the residence. Bish said Ashworth was a former girlfriend of the resident’s owner and was staying in the basement. More than 30 marijuana plants, grow lights and other paraphernalia used to facilitate growing marijuana was located in the basement. Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn said he initially talked to the owner of the house and then requested for officers to enter the residence and search the house. Ashworth faces a felony charge of manufacture of marijuana. Bish said the homeowner would not be charged and the property would not be seized because “there is no admissible evidence at this time to support a charge against the property owner.” “The defendant (Ashworth) accepted responsibility and removed liability off the property owner.” Bish said the marijuana plants seized could of generated more than $30,000 once they reached maturation. The property owner was served with a notice of intent of forfeiture if the activity continued. “The owner is now on notice,” Bish said. Bish said city of Madison investigators, working off anonymous tips, developed information that marijuana was growing at the residence. From that information Madison Police Department and the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office pooled resources to make the arrest. “This is a prime example of law enforcement working together to improve the quality of life in Morgan County,” he said. Officers also determined that the electricity bill for the residence for the prior month was approximately $850, nearly six times the amount for similar residences in the lake front neighborhood.