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Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Businessmen deny grow-op charges
BARRIE - Two Toronto businessmen charged with running an elaborate marijuana operation that was disguised as an exercise club claim they knew nothing about the potent plants that were growing in the back room, a court heard Tuesday.
Robert Sinopoli, 47, and Mark D’Angela, 40, who run a waste management business called Waste Solutions Group — based in Toronto and Ottawa — are charged with production of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Barrie police Const. Bill Grant testified at their trial that he was called to an industrial plaza in the south end of Barrie after the owner discovered the marijuana while checking on a water leak that was causing a hazard to the neighbouring automotive shop.
Inside the unit he found several dust-covered exercise machines and noticed an “orange glow” coming from the crack of a locked door at the back of the warehouse. The back room contained several lighting units hanging over 126 marijuana plants as well as water lines, a climate control unit that was leaking water into a blocked drain, and a sophisticated charcoal system that filtered the air.
“It takes care of the odour so it’s not going to cause any suspicion,” explained Grant.
He said he called the lessee, Robert Sinopoli, but he was away on holidays. He called a second number of an alleged caretaker and while pretending to be a property manager, and asked him to come and take care of a flooding problem.
Within minutes, Mark D’Angela drove into the parking lot and headed into the unit. He was arrested and police seized his keys to the outside and inside doors of the grow-op.
Earlier in the trial the property owner testified Sinopoli leased the unit, telling him he owned a successful waste management business but wanted the space to start a hobby as a personal trainer.
Defence lawyer Mitchell Worsoff has asked the judge to dismiss the charges because of lack of evidence.
“There is nothing linking my client (D’Angela) to any illegal activity,” said Worsoff.
“Except that he shows up with the keys to the place,” noted Justice Anne Mullins.
Sinopoli’s lawyer has argued his client sublet the back room and had no knowledge of the grow-op