Priest Accused of Growing Pot at Church

A Roman Catholic priest (search) has been arrested for allegedly growing marijuana (search) in his church living quarters.

The Rev. Richard A. Arko (search), 40, was charged Wednesday with illegal cultivation of marijuana. He remained jailed Thursday on $3,000 bail.

Police said they found a marijuana growing system in a spare bedroom and confiscated about 35 potted marijuana plants ranging from 6 inches to 4 feet tall, along with grow lights, electric transformers, air purifiers and instruction books for growing marijuana. They also seized two small plastic bags with marijuana.

Arrested with the priest was Jensen J. Powell, 24, who police said also lived in the Prince of Peace Church rectory. He was charged with trafficking in marijuana and held on $10,000 bail.

Powell was unemployed and had no affiliation with the church, about eight miles southwest of Akron.

Both men were scheduled to be arraigned next Wednesday. If convicted, each faces six months to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

A message seeking comment was left at the church.

Elsewhere Thursday, a Catholic priest in Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced to a year in prison for downloading images and movies of child pornography on a laptop computer he used to publish a church newspaper.

The Rev. Richard Poster, the former director of liturgy and publisher of the newspaper for the diocese of Davenport, pleaded guilty in August to receiving pictures of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.