(Ed Andrieski, Associate Press file)

Judge maintains $1 million bond for accused leader of Colorado marijuana trafficking ring

The lawyer for the defendant accuses District Attorney George Brauchler, who is considered a possible GOP candidate for governor in 2018, of inflating the seriousness of the crime to elevate his political profile

An Arapahoe County judge refused Thursday to reduce the $1 million bond for a man accused of leading a ring suspected of illegally growing marijuana and selling it out-of-state, despite objections from his lawyer, who called the bust politically motivated.

Christopher Decker, a lawyer for Michael Stonehouse, accused 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who is considered a possible GOP candidate for governor in 2018, of inflating the seriousness of the crime to elevate his political profile.

“They are selling this like it is a big, huge bust,” Decker said outside the courtroom. “I think they stubbed their toe on it.”

Brauchler office wouldn’t comment on the charges beyond what was said during the hearing.

Stonehouse, 53, and 15 other suspects were arrested in a metro-wide raid on March 16. Authorities said the suspects grew and packaged hundreds of pounds of pot each month and shipped it to at least five states. They also are accused of producing and illegally selling hash oil.

The indictment leading to the bust followed a raid last August on an equestrian property in Elizabeth where they found 2,500 pounds of marijuana that officials estimate was worth about $5 million. The Elbert County property, with its riding arena and huge house, is connected to Stonehouse, according to court documents.