Federal prosecutors claim the ringleader of a multi-state indoor marijuana growing ring is dangerous - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Federal prosecutors claim the ringleader of a multi-state indoor marijuana growing ring is dangerous

June 5, 2008

Albany-  The suspected ringleader of a multi-state indoor marijuana operation will stay in jail until his trial.

Federal prosecutors say Frank Spring is dangerous and Thursday they laid out how they think Frank Spring brought the indoor growing operation to south Georgia.

At a detention hearing, they also claimed Spring threatened to kill several witnesses and said if he's granted bond he has the connections and money to flee the country.

Federal prosecutors Thursday explained how Frank Spring brought an indoor marijuana growing operation to Lee County. They say in 2005 when a grow house run by Spring in Tallahassee, Florida was burglarized, he simply set up another operation in Jacksonville, and eventually moved to several homes near Asheville, North Carolina. The North Carolina operation was busted, Spring pled guilty and while on probation, prosecutors claim he asked Dean Slaymaker and Scott Holcomb to help him move the operation to Peachtree Street in Sasser. With help from Scott Renfroe, the Lee County operation started.

"He brought it in, the operation to Terrell County first and he moved it on and expanded into Lee County," said Lee County Sheriff Harold Breeden.

Prosecutors now claim Spring has made threats against several witnesses. In one case, they say he duct taped a woman's hands and feet and threw her in a closet to prove his threat to kill her husband and kids. Threats were also made from the Lee County Jail against Brian Klein and his girlfriend Kim Ethridge and her children.

"He was threatening the witnesses and their families and their lives if they testified against him," said Breeden.

In court, Prosecutors revealed Spring has two aliases. He also had his passport on him when he was arrested and it has stamps for Costa Rica, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Amsterdam. In recorded jail conversation between Spring and Darlene Slaymaker he told her he'd need at least $10,000 for bond and he could get it if he was out.

"He's a big flight risk, he's got ties to a man in South Africa, diamond smuggling rings, he's met him overseas before so, he is a flight risk," said Breeden.

Spring's defense attorney claims Spring didn't run after getting paroled in North Carolina and he won't run now. They also claimed dark poetry and short stories about torture and pain and murder that prosecutors took from the Lee County home are nothing more than fictional stories that prosecutors can't prove Spring wrote.

Late Thursday afternoon, Judge Mallon Faircloth agreed with Prosecutors and ordered Spring held without bond in the Dougherty County Jail. His case is expected to go to trial within the next 70 days.

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