- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2000

A Silver Spring, Md., man who turned the basement of his two-bedroom home into a massive "drug manufacturing factory" agreed yesterday to surrender it as part of an unusual plea agreement.

Barry Kaufman, 45, who works for a computer software company, faces up to five years in jail on a charge of manufacture with intent to distribute marijuana.

Police found an elaborate growing system and about $1 million worth of marijuana in his home when they arrested him in December.

"Kaufman converted his home into a drug manufacturing factory," said Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler. "It is therefore appropriate that he forfeit his house to the state as part of his plea."

Mr. Gansler could not remember another case in Montgomery County where a home was seized. That's because operations this size are uncommon.

Federal authorities often seize homes, businesses or other property directly connected to drug crimes, usually involving cocaine or heroin.

"They are constantly taking boats and expensive cars," Mr. Gansler said.

Kaufman pleaded guilty before Montgomery County Circuit Judge D. Warren Donohue yesterday and was freed on his own recognizance. It is up to him to find his own place to stay until sentencing Aug. 15.

The house at 10022 Tenbrook Drive, valued at about $150,000, will be sold. Kaufman lived alone.

County police, acting on a tip, called in a Maryland State Police helicopter to fly over the house and scan it using thermal-imaging technology. They detected an unusual amount of heat inside the house.

Members of the Montgomery County Police drug investigations unit executed a search warrant Dec. 20 and found two large basement rooms, one with 43 marijuana plants, the other with 56.

The rooms were climate controlled with fans, vents and duct work leading to the outside rear of the residence. Kaufman equipped each room with a generator and two large hydro-grow lights each 1,000 watts on motorized tracks running on timers.

Officers found a third growing room under construction in the basement with lighting and electrical equipment piled in the middle of the floor.

They seized packing materials, triple-beam scales and 200 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $1,000 to $5,000 a pound. Kaufman admitted to selling the marijuana to several buyers at $200 an ounce.

"I thought he was a nice person," said one neighbor, who did not want to be identified.

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