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Last updated: Thu. Nov. 15, 2012 - 08:36 am EDT

2 poised to admit roles in lake-area pot business

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FORT WAYNE — Two men accused of participating in a marijuana-growing operation in the Lake Everett area are pleading guilty in federal court.

Jason Bridges, 32, and Jarrod Vroom, 39, are pleading guilty to possessing 100 or more marijuana plants. Bridges also admitted to possessing less than 50 kilograms of marijuana.

On Sept. 8, after months of investigating by the Indiana State Police, Allen County Drug Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, officers with the Allen County SWAT team raided Bridges' house and found a growing operation and an additional 4 pounds of marijuana.

In late September, the pair were indicted by a U.S. District Court grand jury in Fort Wayne, accused in a three-count document of manufacturing and possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Vroom is also accused in Allen Superior Court of raping a mentally impaired woman. The adult woman, who functions at the mental capacity of a 4-year-old and cannot legally consent to sex, became pregnant from the alleged attack.

Vroom was working on remodeling a house owned by the woman's guardian and is accused of having sex with the woman while the guardian was away from the house to get supplies. The pregnancy came to light months later. After the woman gave birth to the child, the baby died while in foster care in another state, according to court documents.

Those charges are pending.

While Vroom signed his guilty plea and consented to have the hearing before a magistrate judge, the remainder of the hearing was moved from Wednesday to Nov. 28.

Bridges pleaded guilty Tuesday and will be sentenced at a later date. He was initially charged with dealing marijuana in Allen Superior Court in connection to the September raid, but those charges have been dismissed since the federal case was filed.

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