By Jessica Mathews /

After years in the court system, a local man charged in connection with a marijuana growing and distribution operation has reached a settlement in the case and all charges have been dropped.

Five area men were charged in 2015 following an investigation into the alleged operation. The investigation led authorities to the suspects’ homes, where 15 pounds of marijuana, about 550 plants and nearly $200,000 in cash was found and seized by police. The remaining co-defendant in the case was Darryl Scott Berry of Howell. A final settlement was reached in the case with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and Berry’s Tuesday court appearance for a civil infraction was waived. Records show that the criminal charges were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be re-filed. He was fined $1 for a civil infraction, which was paid.

Also charged in the case was 50-year-old Jeffrey Allen Michael of Fowlerville, pleaded guilty to two added counts of maintaining a drug house. In exchange, charges of delivering/manufacturing a controlled substance, felony firearms and conspiracy were dismissed. Other co-defendants, Dennis James of Howell and Joseph Zubor of Gregory, previously entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to probation in 2016. The case against Johnny Glen Cooper of Fenton was dismissed without prejudice. The charges against the five men were authorized in 2017 but it was a stay in the case that caused a holdup for Michael and Berry.

Marijuana plants that were collected during the investigation were destroyed by police before trial could commence, which prompted former District Court Judge Carol Sue Reader to dismiss several charges against the pair. Judge Reader later reversed her decision and defense attorneys appealed. That appeal was ultimately denied by Judge Michael P. Hatty.