Traffic stop yields pot stash

Michael Porter

MICHIGAN CITY – A Michigan City man, free on bond after a traffic stop led to his arrest on charges of dealing in marijuana, told police he was dealing in the area because he heard it was "running dry," according to a La Porte County Sheriff's Department report.

Michael T. Porter, 36, is free on bond after being arrested Saturday following a traffic stop on U.S. 20, according to the La Porte County Sheriff's Department. He is facing a Level 6 felony charge of dealing in marijuana with a prior drug conviction.

According to the sheriff's department report, a deputy was parked in the 4400 block of East Michigan Boulevard about 7:20 p.m. when a blue Chevrolet went past eastbound in the 6500 block of West U.S. 20. As the vehicle passed, the trooper said he could hear a loud rumble from the muffler, though he had his windows up at the time.

He followed the car to the intersection of CR-600W and U.S. 20, where it made a sudden lane change, the report said. The deputy pulled the car over and spoke to the driver, 33-year-old Laura Porter of Michigan City, who told the officer her license might be suspended, and a records check showed it was.

As one deputy ran the information, another deputy said he was standing next to the passenger-side window and saw the man in the passenger seat, later identified as Michael Porter, "exchanging text messages inquiring about Percocets, an opioid pain medication," the report said.

A third deputy arrived with his K9, Bosco, who began sniffing around the vehicle. The dog alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle, and both occupants were asked to step out of the vehicle, the report said.

They were searched and told the vehicle would also be searched, and the driver said there might be a "tiny amount of marijuana" under the driver's seat, the report said. A search turned up a small clutch, with three small packages of a green leafy substance inside, as well as a glass pipe with burnt residue, and what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette inside.

In the rear of the vehicle, a lever in the middle of the back seats was pulled to get into the trunk area, where a draw string bag was found, containing three bottles and a Mason jar containing a green leafy substance, the report said.

Also found were a digital weighing scale and a envelope containing "information that appeared to be a ledger referencing marijuana transactions," the deputy said in the report. Michael Porter said all of the items found belonged to him, the report said.

A search of his pockets turned up a small booklet "appearing to be a ledger for marijuana transactions," the report said.

The deputy said his training led him to believe that Porter was in possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute or sell, the report said. He was arrested and taken to the La Porte County Jail.

Michael Porter told the deputy he "was selling the marijuana trying to make some extra money" and "heard our area of the county was 'running dry' in reference to marijuana," the deputy wrote in the report. Michael Porter said he'd worked in the area for 20 years, but was unsure how long he'd been selling pot, the report said, though he said he'd been arrested for a "dealing case about 20 years ago."

Laura Porter was released and given citations for operating while suspended, driving with a leaky or deteriorated muffler, and failure to signal a lane change, the report said.

The green leafy substance later tested positive for THC, and the total amount was 69 grams, or just under 2 1/2 ounces, the report said.

It also noted that Michael Porter had a previous felony conviction for dealing marijuana in 2004.

Porter pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing Monday in Superior Court 4, and his next court appearance was scheduled for July 22, according to court records.

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