Man receives probation for hemp theft

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BENNINGTON — A New York man has been sentenced to probation after admitting to stealing plants from a hemp farming operation in 2016.

Leon D. Lovelace, 22, of Hoosick Falls pleaded guilty in Bennington criminal court on Friday to misdemeanor petit larceny $900 or less and giving false information to police.

Judge David A. Howard accepted a plea agreement that amended a felony grand larceny charge to the lesser misdemeanor larceny charge, and dismissed misdemeanor unlawful trespass.

Vermont State Police responded at about 4 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2016 for a suspicious vehicle complaint near Rollin Road in Shaftsbury. Troopers said they found three men who had freshly harvested plants that appeared to be marijuana.

Troopers determined the three men were Lovelace, Cody S. Smith, 21, of Mechanicville, and Brett M. Stone, 25, of Hoosick Falls.

They also determined the plants were not marijuana, but in fact hemp taken from a nearby farm, and that Lovelace and Stone had initially given false names to police.

Lovelace received a six-to-twelve month suspended sentence with 18 months of probation. He must also complete a reparative board sentence within six months.

Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett prosecuted the case. Lovelace was represented by Katelyn Atwood.

Stone and Smith have been sentenced to probation on petit larceny counts.

The three men will return to court for a restitution hearing on Feb. 22.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111

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