Detective’s nose points out 2 pot operations

One of the two Whidbey Island men who last October for growing pot plants will likely be going to jail soon.

One of the two Whidbey Island men who last October for growing pot plants will likely be going to jail soon.

Robert Bell, a 54-year-old Oak Harbor resident, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court May 19 to the manufacturing of marijuana.

As part of a plea bargain, both the prosecution and defense will recommend at a June 2 sentencing hearing that Bell serve seven months in jail and pay $4,200 in fines and fees.

In a related case, prosecutors charged 51-year-old Donald Phelps of Coupeville March 17 with manufacturing marijuana and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana.

The investigation into the two pot growing operations began with a tip and some strategic sniffing by a detective.

Detective Daniel Todd with the Island County Sheriff’s Office investigated Phelps’ house on Smart Court, which is in the Admirals Cove area, by standing nearby and smelling the air. On two occasions he detected the distinct smell of marijuana coming from the home, as well as the sound of a high-powered fan.

On Oct. 10, Todd applied for and was granted a search warrant for Phelps’ abode. He and other detectives discovered a marijuana growing operations in an underground crawl space and an attached garage, the report states. In all, Todd wrote, there were 91 plants.

Also, the detectives found a bedroom where pot was being dried, weighed and packaged, the report indicates.

When the detectives served the search warrant, Bell was present at Phelps’ home. Bell told them he was a plumber and was just there to fix the plumbing.

However, Todd checked out Bell’s Riepma Avenue home two days later by standing at the property line. He smelled the odor of pot and heard the humming of a fan. Based on that and other information, he obtained a search warrant and served it later that day.

Todd wrote that he found a growing operation with 47 pot plants.

If Phelps is convicted of the charges against him, he could face up to 18 months in prison under the standard sentencing range.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

More in News

Bunny ailment hits Whidbey

Now may not be the best time for Whidbey Island residents or… Continue reading

Man accused of stabbing woman in the head with glass shard

A Langley man who stabbed a woman in the head with a… Continue reading

County passes $110 million budget, property tax increases

Island County on Monday passed its $110-million budget and increased its three… Continue reading

I-1639 mandated training class offered

North Whidbey Sportsmen’s Association is offering a series of safety classes to… Continue reading

Trail project, Island Transit van pool purchases put on hold

An on-again, off-again trail project in Clinton is off again, and Island… Continue reading

Weed burner ignites house fire

A man using a propane weed burner inadvertently ignited a tree Sunday… Continue reading

County eyes code changes to encourage affordable housing

Island County is in the first steps of implementing code changes to… Continue reading

Firefighters work on a garage fire Saturday night on North Whidbey. Photo provided by North Whidbey Fire and Rescue
Improperly stored ashes spark blaze in garage

Wood stove ashes in a cardboard box led to a large garage… Continue reading

Island County proposes $110 million budget

Island County is anticipating the construction of two major facilities in 2020… Continue reading

Most Read