Once the epicenter of a clandestine drug lab that grabbed national attention, Room 926 in Harbin Hall sits empty this semester, its one-time residents and a campus visitor on three different paths after their Oct. 23 arrests.
John Romano (COL ’14), who has returned to campus for the spring semester, was cleared of all charges after Smith told officials that Romano was not involved in any illegal activityof manufacturing the illegal hallucinogenic dimethyltryptamine according to The Washington Post. Former SFS freshman Charles Smith and former University of Richmond first-year John Perrone, who was visiting Smith at the time faced greater legal ramifications, however.
Using dry ice, chemicals, a turkey baster, ammonia, acetate and paint thinner, Smith and Perrone began concocting the endogenous hallucinogen, which can mimic a near-death experience or a dreaming state by being smoked, inhaled or ingested.
The manufacturing of a Schedule 1 drug such as DMT can result in 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s federal trafficking penalties. However, Perrone and Smith were sentenced March 18 to three years of probation and 200 hours of community service.
The pair avoided any jail time under the District of Columbia Youth Rehabilitation Act, which allows for a more lenient decisions for defendants under the age of 22.
Though the implicated students’ memory of October’s incident still remains, their lives have begun to restart.
According to his Facebook page, Smith will be attending the University of California, Berkeley in the fall as a member of the school’s class of 2015.
As for John Perrone, the 18-year-old is not currently enrolled at Richmond. Under his probation, he is allowed to return to Richmond’s campus only for educational reasons.
The pair was recently allowed to opportunity to reunite after United States District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled on April 13 that the two defendants could associate with each other but not with any other convicted felons. Typically, convicted felons by law are not allowed to associate.
According to a memorandum by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Smith was forced to withdraw from Georgetown after an onslaught of media attention centered on the Hilltop following his arrest. Perrone and Smith went back to live in their hometown of Andover, Mass., after a hearing in October. Both were responsible for passing a substance abuse program there.
Smith has been serving out his sentence at Lazurus House, an emergency center shelter in Lawrence, Mass., under the supervision of his parents. He also was attending the Middlesex Community College and taking a class at the Harvard Extension School in Boston.
“Since his arrest, Mr. Smith has taken every action available to him to show the court that he understands and accepts responsibility for the wrongfulness of his conduct,” Smith’s lawyer Danny Onorato said in a statement after Smith’s court date on March 18. “He asks the court to consider as mitigating factors that it was an isolated event and that Mr. Smith has moved swiftly and decisively to acknowledge his wrongdoing and re-establish himself as a productive and law-abiding young citizen.”
The Lazurus House declined to comment on his time there. Onorato also declined to comment, and Smith, Romano, Vice President for Facilities and Student Housing Karen Frank and Associate Director of DPS Joseph Smith could not be reached for comment.