YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A former Oakland man free on bail after he was charged with selling large amounts of pot from his home was arrested last night by Mahwah detectives who seized 15 pounds of marijuana and more than a pound of concentrated TCH — known as “dab” — during an undercover bust at a Route 17 motel.
A judge, in turn, revoked the $200,000 bail for 31-year-old Darren Edward Richardson of Haskell — who has an extensive pot-related criminal history — and set $50,000 bail for the new drug possession and distribution charges, Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said. He remained held in the Bergen County Jail.
Gang involvement was suspected, although Batelli emphasized that the investigation by Detective Lt. Guido Bussinelli and Detective Kevin Hebert was continuing.
Management at the motel on southbound Route 17 summoned police yesterday afternoon on a strong odor of pot coming from a room, the chief said. Officers also were told that several FedEx deliveries had been received there, he said.
No one was in the room at the time, so police began watching it while investigating the occupants.
Soon after, they obtained a search warrant — and then arrest warrants.
Oakland police arrested Richardson in February after finding eight pounds of pot, $8,000 of cash and packaging materials while investigating a burglary at a Jerome Avenue apartment where he was living. Richardson fled the state but soon after turned himself in.
A bail hearing a week later attracted a tiny group of pro-pot protesting friends of Richardson who carried signs with slogans such as: “Dope Kills, Weed Heals, Legalize It.”
Although a judge refused to lower Richadson’s $300,000 bail at the time, another later cut it to $250,000, which he posted in early March.
Responding to a burglary-in-progress the afternoon of Jan. 16, Officer Ryan O’Keefe caught Richardson’s sister, 19-year-old Shaina Harris of Haskell, climbing through a basement window. Police said she contended that her brother owed her two pounds of pot.
Moments later, Sgt. Keith Sanzari and Ptl. Keith Docwra grabbed 18-year-old Zacahary Coombs on Ramapo Terrace.
The smell of raw marijuana at the burglarized house led to a warranted search by Detectives Mark Piercy and Ed McDermott, along with members of the Bergen County Sheriff’s K-9 and Criminal Identification units.
Richardson was charged with operating a drug facility, distributing marijuana, possessing the drug and possessing property from criminal activity.
Records show a previous arrest history for Richardson, including for marijuana possession in Riverdale and Pompton Lakes in 2011 and robbery in Elmwood Park in 2002.
He also sued Pompton Lakes police after they tore apart his car looking for marijuana that they said wasn’t found. The charge was reduced to a disorderly offense.
Still open is an investigation into $15,000 found in Richardson’s car during a traffic stop last November, authorities said.
He also is facing marijuana trafficking charges in Passaic County.