|Drug equipment auctioned off by Braxton County authorities is back in custody of the
State Police, a second-time-around. Braxton State Police raided a Frametown
residence and confiscated "a very elaborate grow system," according to Trooper K.
Police confiscated a system of motorized lights which moved on rails inside a
100-foot square room, and other equipment used for cultivating marijuana. The
growing operation belonged to Rondle C. Bender. Bender told officers he purchased
the equipment from a sale conducted by officers in front of the Braxton County
courthouse in 1997. He said he brought the elaborate equipment off the back of a
Rondle was not arrested, but the equipment and contents of his operation, including
marijuana, was seized. Police were reportedly "amazed" to discover the origin of the
The Braxton Democrat-Central reported the sale was held by the Sheriff's Department
at the order of the Braxton Prosecutor. "At the time of the auction some residents
had questioned whether guns and items such as scales and "grow" lights, fertilizer
and even alcohol should be sold," but the sale continued, according to the paper.
Braxton detachment commander, Sgt. John Bonazzo, was reportedly one of several
registered bidders at the courthouse auction, including several local officials. Sgt.
Bonazzo's troopers and other law enforcement officers have confiscated about nine
pounds of marijuana in the past month in Braxton, according to Huddleston. Much of
it was buried in Mason jars, sniffed out by drug-seeking dogs.
Current Braxton Sheriff Howard Carpenter said he has never been required to have
such a sale during his tenure.