Wednesday, September 29, 2004
The case againt a 26-year-old Steamboat Springs man charged with growing psilocybin mushrooms was sent to District Court on Wednesday.
Michael Benninghoven was arrested Aug. 26. Benninghoven was charged with unlawfully manufacturing, dispensing and possessing a Schedule 1 controlled substance, a Class 3 felony. If convicted, he could serve four to 12 years in prison.
A Steamboat Springs police officer found mushrooms, equipment, chemicals, supplies and notes for growing psilocybin mushrooms inside Benninghoven's residence, 1775 Burgess Creek Road, in late August, court records show.
GRAMNET, the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, suspected Benninghoven was growing the illegal mushrooms and was in the process of seeking a search warrant for Benninghoven's residence at Xanadu Condominiums when a tip came in that Benninghoven knew the agency was coming and could be removing evidence from his condo.
The police conducted surveillance on the condo, and saw Thomas Archibald leave and dump trash that included items used for cultivating mushrooms, court documents show. Archibald allegedly told police that Benninghoven had asked him to throw away the growing equipment.
Archibald was arrested on suspicion of tampering with evidence and being an accessory to a crime. He also appeared in county court Wednesday where his case was continued to Oct. 20 to allow him time to apply for a public defender.
When police contacted Benninghoven, he admitted to growing psilocybin mushrooms and to eating the fungus-covered growing mediums, court documents state. A search of his residence showed equipment, chemicals, supplies and notes for cultivating psilocybin mushrooms, and several growing mediums with the fungus.
Benninghoven appeared in court Wednesday and asked for an amendment to his restraining order to allow him to go back to his apartment to gather his clothes and belongings, and touch up his rental unit.
Deputy District Attorney Erick Knaus said letting Benninghoven return to the condo was problematic because he could come in contact with his landlord, who could be a witness in the case.
"There's a potential for disaster if we allow Mr. Benninghoven to go back to this area where it's alleged that he manufactured this substance," Knaus said.
Garrecht ruled that Benninghoven would have until Monday to move his things out, and then bound the case over to District Court.
Benninghoven will appear in District Court at 9 a.m. Oct. 18.
-- To reach Susan Cunningham call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org