I am getting reports from a couple people that Bigfooter Bob Chance’s court appearance has occurred.
“Bob Chance is just out of the courtroom on his sentencing today and received 18 months probation and 120 hours of community service – with no jail time unless he breaks probation or fails to complete his community service,” reports one informant.
Now there is mainstream media coverage of the outcome:
‘Santa Bob’ sentenced for growing pot on Christmas tree farm
Harford County ecologist earlier pleaded guilty to two drug charges
By Jonathan Pitts
11:55 AM EDT, March 9, 2009
Robert C. Chance, a 62-year-old Harford County ecologist and former high school teacher, was sentenced today to 18 months of supervised probation and given a two-year suspended sentence in Baltimore County Circuit Court for growing marijuana and possessing psychedelic mushrooms last year on his 7-acre Environmental Evergreens Tree Farm.
Chance, known as “Santa Bob” to the children who flocked to his Darlington farm to buy Christmas trees each winter, pleaded guilty in December to two drug charges. Prosecutors and Chance’s attorney, Augustus Brown, had previously agreed that he would serve no more than six months in jail. He had been charged with five counts, including possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and faced up to 20 years in prison had he been convicted on all of them.
He was sentenced by Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge John G. Turnbull II, who handled the case after it was transferred from Harford County. Judges there recused themselves because they are acquainted with Chance, a member of the Harford school system’s educators’ Hall of Fame who also served as a Bel Air town commissioner in the 1970s.
Chance, who retired from teaching in 1999, has run nature camps for children as Ranger Bob, a name he also used years ago in appearances on the children’s television show Romper Room. He was an early advocate of recycling, wrote a nature column for a local newspaper and taught courses on nature through the Harford County Public Library.
Harford County detectives and investigators from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration raided Chance’s farm in May and found 19 growing marijuana plants, more than a pound and a half of packaged marijuana in freezers, and about 33 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
The federal government then filed a civil complaint to seize Chance’s house and farm under a law that allows the taking of land used for illegal drug dealing. After paying a $35,000 fine in December, he was allowed to keep the property, said Brown, Chance’s attorney.
Brown had argued for leniency on several grounds, including his client’s standing in the community and the fact that he had “faithfully completed” a 26-week outpatient recovery program at Father Martin’s Ashley treatment center in Aberdeen.
A fellow patient in the program, Michelle Short of Perryville, testified today to Chance’s “substantial character” and said his “grandfatherly presence” had helped others recover.
Turnbull told the courtroom he was convinced that Chance took his rehab seriously. “I certainly don’t believe he poses a threat to the community,” the judge said. “If anything, he poses a danger to himself.”
After the hearing, Chance, dressed in a blue blazer and khaki slacks, fought tears and declined to comment.
As part of his probation, Chance will perform as yet unspecified community service in Harford County and continue in the recovery program.
When Bob Chance was first charged, a couple stories about him mentioned the “Bigfooter” part of his bio, and then most focused on the “Santa Bob” aspect of his personality.
It’s worth noting that the first paper that initially reported on Chance’s arrest and blared “Bigfoot Hunter” on its front page – The Baltimore Examiner – ceased operations on February 15, 2009.
Thanks to fuzzy and goodman.