Federal authorities have seized a $354,000 Victorian-era farmhouse near this quiet crossroads community in Anne Arundel County where police say they found a giant illicit drug laboratory last winter.
The rambling blue-shuttered house, plus a $112,000 printing press at a shop selling T-shirt decals and bumper stickers in nearby Annapolis, were seized Thursday by deputy U.S. marshals--the latest government actions against Robert M. Krohn, 28, owner of both the house and the press. He is charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, a potent form of the drug commonly known as "speed."
The properties were seized under a federal law allowing the government to make seizures when agents believe that revenues from illicit drugs were used to purchase the properties.
Once seized, the owner of the property "can't sell it and can't use it" for any purpose, including raising bail money or paying attorneys' fees, said George B. Brosan, chief of the Baltimore office of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The owner can challenge the seizure in court. If he fails to prove the seizure was improper or decides not to challenge it, the property is ultimately auctioned to the public.
Yesterday, Krohn's farmhouse, nestled among huge oak trees on 25 acres of rolling land, appeared vacant. A large yellow sign posted in front of it and signed by Maryland U.S. Marshal J.W. Spurrier, announced the house was in U.S. custody and warned visitors to keep out.
Similarly, in Annapolis, deputy marshals had pasted government seizure signs on a 35-foot-long, 4,500-pound Dynolyne printing press at Atlantic Decal, Krohn's T-shirt and bumper sticker shop.
According to federal court papers, Krohn bought the press last fall for $112,000, paying $10,000 down with subsequent payments of $40,000 and $62,000 in less than a month.
Krohn bought the farmhouse about the same time for $354,000, according to the court papers. He made initial cash payments totaling $94,000 last October, November and January, according to the papers, and also started making monthly payments of $4,722 on a $260,000 mortgage.
Krohn was apparently trying to sell the house at the time of the government seizure. A Merrill-Lynch real estate sign was posted yesterday on the road leading to the house.
The son of a well known Annapolis lawyer, Krohn was originally arrested in January after county police, searching for a missing person, accidentally discovered what they said was a well-equipped lab in Krohn's farmhouse. Chemicals stored in the house indicated the lab was capable of producing millions of dollars worth of illicit "meth" yearly, they said.
Krohn was released in January on personal bond but was arrested again earlier this month by DEA agents on charges of conspiring with an undercover agent to set up another lab to replace the farmhouse lab. Three other persons, including Krohn's girlfriend, Catherine Lee Scarborough, 27, were also arrested at that time.
Krohn was ordered held under $1 million bond and remains in jail. Yesterday, he, Scarborough and a third suspect, Mauro Pasqualucci, 28, of Edgewater, Md., were arraigned in federal court in Baltimore where they formally pleaded innocent to all charges. Trial was tentatively set for Aug. 1 by Judge Alexander Harvey II.
Scarborough and Pasqualucci are currently free on $150,000 and $15,000 bonds, respectively. A fourth suspect, Jack D. Holt, 35, of Leesburg, Va., charged with manufacturing a bomb ostensibly to booby trap Krohn's proposed new lab if authorities discovered it, will be arraigned next Friday. He is currently free on $25,000 bond.