County Attorney’s Office declines prosecution of suspects in alleged butane hash oil manufacture
Chief Deputy County Attorney says case ‘has not been permanently declined’
In a hearing Thursday before Yavapai County Superior Court Division A Judge Pro Tem Jeffrey G. Paupore, the three people accused earlier this week in a theft case, two of whom also were arrested on allegations of butane hash oil manufacture, saw the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office decline prosecution.
According to Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane, the case against 54-year-old Gregory Jay, 30-year-old Monica Johnson and 26-year-old Justin Jay was “sent back to detectives for additional investigation. It is an active investigation and that is about all I can say.”
McGrane added that the case against the three Verde Village residents “has not been permanently declined is the best way to put it.”
According to a news release earlier this week from Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Media Relations Coordinator Dwight D’Evelyn, in late October, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a theft incident that occurred in the 11000 block of Adams Road in Cornville. According to the release, the victim had been gone for several weeks and upon returning home found numerous custom wood products missing including hand-cut tables, headboards, and wood slabs valued at several thousand dollars.
Additionally, expensive power tools were missing.
When asked who he suspected may have stolen the items, the victim said “Greg Jay,” who was a business associate from the past. The victim also noted that he saw what he believed was one of his stolen wood slabs on Jay’s social media page.
The next day, deputies met with 54-year-old Gregory Jay in the 4500 block of Western Drive in Verde Village. Jay denied any involvement in the burglary and would not address issues regarding content on his social media account.
As the investigation continued into December, deputies were contacted by the victim with new information, including a social media photo of Jay with a wood slab clearly visible in the background. The unique features of the slab were identified by the victim as belonging to one of the slabs reported stolen.
Deputies continued their follow-up, conferred with YCSO detectives and a search warrant was obtained for a business in the 2500 block of Union Drive. Jay was known to live on this property in a converted school bus.
On January 11, deputies, detectives and evidence technicians served the warrant. Once on the premises, deputies contacted and detained Jay and 30-year-old Monica Johnson with her 3-year-old daughter. All were living in the bus. Arriving later and also detained was 26-year-old Justin Jay, previously identified as a suspect.
Deputies immediately located two of the stolen wooden slabs inside a business portion of the building, D’Evelyn reported.
While searching the building and bus, said D’Evelyn, deputies found large amounts of drug paraphernalia containing marijuana residue including bongs and pipes. It also appeared the suspects were manufacturing an oil-based form of marijuana known as butane hash oil. Marijuana trimmings are put into a holding container with butane pushed through until only the butane escapes and the plant matter remains.
“This process allows for the cannabinoids to be removed from the marijuana by pumping the butane through the holding container,” the news release stated. “It becomes a liquid mixture of butane and marijuana, which is then evaporated in an attempt to remove the harmful substances resulting in a waxy or honey-like substance. This is a very dangerous procedure because any flame in the area could quickly ignite the butane.”
D’Evelyn said the manufacturing operation was evident in the both the building and bus where the 3-year-old child was living. Under current living conditions in the bus, many drug-related items were within reach of the child. A representative from the Department of Child Safety arrived and took custody of the child.
Thursday, D’Evelyn said arrests by YCSO deputies, and subsequent media releases on those arrests, “are not based on whether the county attorney will file a charge but probable cause developed to make the arrest.”