Office of the State's Attorney

Worcester County, Maryland

Guilty Plea In Pot Growing Operation

SNOW HILL — The second of two local men indicted last fall in a sophisticated marijuana-growing operation pleaded guilty this week and was placed on probation for one year.

Michael Cluster, 33, of Berlin, was indicted by a Worcester County grand jury last fall on multiple counts including possession of over 10 grams of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to manufacture marijuana after the execution of a search and seizure warrant revealed a vast pot-growing operation on a property just north of Berlin. On Tuesday, Cluster pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to manufacture charge and the other counts against him were not prosecuted. Cluster was placed on supervised probation for one year. He was also ordered to forfeit over $3,200 in cash and equipment.

Cluster’s co-defendant in the case, John Harrison, 31, also of Berlin, last month pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 18 months, all of which was suspended in favor of probation and a forfeiture of equipment seized during the investigation.

Last Sept. 18, local law enforcement agencies, including the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team, with the assistance of the Ocean City Police Department Narcotics Unit, executed search and seizure warrants at various locations throughout Worcester County following an investigation into a suspected marijuana growing operation. The search warrants yielded multiple seizures of evidentiary value including a sophisticated marijuana growing operation at a location along Route 113 north of Berlin near the defunct Beach Club golf course.

At that site, local law enforcement discovered and seized a sophisticated marijuana growing operation including a state-of-the-art irrigation and lighting system. Nearly 100 marijuana plants were seized.

The seizure included a recently-constructed 30-foot by 60-foot pole barn, or agricultural shed. Inside that shed was a “marijuana growing operation utilizing technologically-advanced agricultural techniques designed to maximize the amount of marijuana produced at that location,” a statement from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office at the time read. “Due to the vast amount of mature plants recovered, along with the complex nature of the grow facility, the entire facility was seized and secured.”