HILLSBOROUGH — A township man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday morning for maintaining a marijuana production facility in his Millstone River Road home.
Nicholas Tafaro, 30, had pleaded guilty to charges of operating a marijuana manufacturing facility, manufacturing marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana.
Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman, sitting in Somerville, sentenced Tafaro to the sentence mandated for a first-degree crime. Tafaro, because he has a previous conviction, must serve 66 months before becoming eligible for parole.
Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne J. Forrest said at the time of Tafaro’s arrest that the charges stemmed
from aerial surveillance conducted by the New Jersey National Guard with help from Hillsborough police.
As a result of the surveillance, numerous marijuana plants were seen growing in the backyard of Tafaro’s residence.
On Aug. 28, 2008, members of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and Hillsborough Township police conducted a search of the property where the marijuana was seen. As a result of the search, 51 marijuana plants ranging in height from 2- to 5-feet-tall were seized from a wooded area behind the residence, Forrest said.
A day later, after a search warrant was was obtained for the residence, members of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force and Hillsborough Police Department executed the search warrant and seized a large quantity of items used for the production of marijuana and for an indoor production facility along with approximately two pounds of harvested marijuana, according to authorities.
Items seized from the residence included high-powered lighting systems, cooling and ventilation systems and chemical fertilizers. Tafaro turned himself into authorities Sept. 21, 2008.