January 26, 2023

Court accepts guilty plea in Prairie City marijuana operation bust


The third member of a Prairie City family involved in a marijuana growing operation raided by local and Jasper County law enforcement last year has pleaded guilty in district court.

Jena Marie Wright, 23, entered the plea March 5 for possession of marijuana (a serious misdemeanor). The court accepted the plea Monday and dismissed the remaining charges of manufacturing marijuana, three counts of failure to affix a drug tax stamp (both class D felonies), possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia and neglect and abandonment of a dependent person.

Authorities arrested Jena Wright's husband, 25-year-old Harmon Wesley Wright III, and father-in-law, 64-year-old Harmon Wesley Wright Jr., during a raid of their residence at 300 S. Marshall St on April 27, 2011. The bust involved search warrants executed by multiple law enforcement agencies including Prairie City Police, Jasper County Sheriff's Office and SERT Team, Monroe Police and the M.I.N.E. Task Force.

According to Jasper County District Court records, all three lived at the Prairie City residence where investigators found three marijuana plants growing with proper light and air filtration systems in an unlocked basement. Also discovered during the search were two baggies of marijuana, one on a dining room table the other in Wright Jr.'s coat pocket, two 10 mg tablets of amphetamine on a desk and two marijuana smoking pipes in Wright Jr.'s bedroom which lab tested positive for marijuana residue.

Police said the controlled substances were accessible to the 2-year-old child of Jena Wright and Harmon Wright III. The juvenile was removed from the home by authorities while the three adults were taken to the Jasper County Jail.

Jena Wright is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:30 a.m Monday. In the plea recommendation, the Jasper County Attorney's Office is asking Judge Martha L. Mertz to issue a two-day jail sentence for Wright with credit for time already served, a $315 fine and driver's license suspension of 180 days. The maximum penalty for Wright's possession charge is a six-month prison sentence and a $1,000 fine.

Harmon Wright Jr. and Harmon Wright III pleaded guilty to controlled substance charges in January and February, respectively. Wright III is currently serving a two-year probation for the plea while the remainder of his charges were dropped. Wright Jr. served a two-day jail sentence and payed a $315 fine.

Mike Mendenhall can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 422 or via email at mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com.