The Takoma Park couple whose teenage daughter turned them in to police for growing marijuana in the basement each will plead guilty to a single misdemeanor, according to a plea deal outlined in court records.
The agreement, which is scheduled to be reviewed in court next month, would mean probation and no jail time for Robert Jason Alvarez, 54, and his wife, Katherine Marie "Kitty" Tucker, 55.
But a number of issues remain unresolved for Alvarez, who lost a senior policy job at the U.S. Department of Energy over his August arrest, and Tucker, a nationally known anti-nuclear activist whose attorneys say she used the marijuana for medical purposes.
The family is fighting for the return of two computers confiscated by the FBI and to ensure that their sentences will not be on their criminal records. But most importantly, their attorneys say, they want to sort out what happened and heal the family's wounds.
"It's been a hair-raising experience," said Steven Kupferberg, of Rockville, Tucker's attorney. "The family is doing as well as they can with that, considering the 300-pound gorilla in the living room."
Kupferberg was referring to a condition of the couple's release on bond that specified that Kerry Tucker, 16, may live with her parents--provided there is no family discussion of the marijuana arrest or events leading up to it. A judge initially had ordered that the teenager could not reside in the family home.
Defense attorneys are assuming that the restriction, put in place in September, will be lifted Dec. 14, when Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge DeLawrence Beard reviews the plea agreement and imposes sentences.
Kupferberg would not elaborate yesterday on what compelled Kerry Tucker to inform police about the marijuana at the family's Kennebec Avenue home.
"Everyone has their problems. Kerry's are educational and emotional, Kitty's are medical, and Bob's are to try and support the family," Kupferberg said.
The couple's Aug. 30 arrest came after Kerry Tucker went to the Takoma Park Police Department to report that her parents had been growing marijuana in the basement. The teenager brought police photographs of the plants.
When police officers searched the home Aug. 19, they found 69 marijuana plants in varying stages of growth, basement grow lights, tools for growing plants and books on how to grow marijuana.
Police also found marijuana in canisters and wooden boxes in the master bedroom, as well as marijuana pipes and rolling papers and other paraphernalia. They said the smell of marijuana was detectable from the front door. Tucker's attorneys have said she used the marijuana to relieve the pain of severe migraines and fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder that causes muscle pain.
Alvarez was suspended and then fired from his job as a senior policy adviser at the Department of Energy.
A political appointee who had served as deputy assistant secretary at one point, Alvarez joined the department during the administration of then-Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary.
Tucker, an attorney, was deeply involved in publicizing the case of nuclear power whistleblower Karen Silkwood. Tucker continued to be active in anti-nuclear issues.
Under the plea agreement, which was detailed in court papers filed Nov. 3, Alvarez will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The state agrees to dismiss a charge of attempted marijuana manufacturing, according to court documents.
Tucker, under the agreement, will plead guilty to attempted propagation of marijuana, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $15,000 fine.
The state agreed that neither Tucker nor Alvarez would serve jail time.
The couple originally had faced felony charges of manufacturing and conspiring to manufacture marijuana.
"We are very happy with the disposition," said Fred W. Bennett, of Greenbelt, Alvarez's attorney. Bennett said he will tell the judge about the counseling Kerry Tucker and her family are receiving, including a drug education and awareness program.
Both Bennett and Kupferberg plan to ask for a sentence of probation before judgment, meaning there would be no record of the conviction provided there are no violations for the duration of the probation. Prosecutors will oppose that effort, the documents say.
Kupferberg is seeking the return of items (two computers, a printer and some disks) seized by the Takoma Park police and handed over to the FBI.
Carol Bannerman, a police spokeswoman, said they routinely send computers for analysis to any of several laboratories, including the FBI's, in cases of alleged manufacture of illegal drugs.