Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Mushroom grower sent to state prison

by Rob Ireland

November 15, 2012

ELKHORN — The man behind the “largest psilocybin mushroom growing operation that has ever been located in Walworth County” was sent to a state prison for the next two years.

Ian B. Henning, 34, of Elgin, Ill., pleaded guilty Sept. 24 to a felony charges of manufacturing psilocybin and possession of marijuana.

After his prison term he will spend four years on extended supervision.

Henning grew the psilocybin mushrooms inside of a storage unit on Krueger Road in the town of Geneva.

On Sept. 24, 2010, his landlord entered the unit because it was emitting a strong odor. Police entered Henning’s unit because they believed the pungent smell might be a rotting corpse.

However, in motion hearings Henning questioned the legality of the search because his landlord told the 911 dispatcher that he had located a “drug lab.”

Judge John Race ruled that the warrantless search of the unit was legal.

Police removed more than 800 grams of psilocybin mushrooms from the unit. While police were raiding the unit, Henning was incarcerated in Illinois for selling psilocybin mushrooms. In Illinois, Henning received a 46-month sentence.

“This was really large scale,” Assistant District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld said. “It was purely a financial motive for him.”

Wiedenfeld requested a two to three year prison sentence, and recommended that Henning remain on supervision for five years

He argued that Henning needed a lot of supervision to ensure he doesn’t return to a life of crime. Henning has previous convictions for drunken driving, drug possession and weapon violations.

“A loaded firearm was located under a mattress,” Wiedenfeld said. Henning, who was already a felon, legally can’t possess a firearm.

Originally he was charged with possession of a firearm as a felon, but that charge and a misdemeanor charge of drug paraphernalia were dismissed but read into the record.

Totes containing live tarantulas were also found inside of the unit.

Henning’s defense attorney, Nathan Jurowski, said that when his client initially rented the storage unit, his plans were to raise exotic pets.

After his business plans weren’t successful, Henning turned to growing psilocybin mushrooms.

Jurowski said Henning planned on tearing down the grow operation after he was arrested in Illinois, but it was discovered before his release.

“My business didn’t take off as well as I had planned,” Henning said. “I made a large mistake by trying to bail myself out.”

Henning said the majority of the grow operation was a failure, which is why the odor was so strong.

“I do not see myself repeating this behavior in any way shape or form,” Henning said.

Race said Henning’s actions were serious, especially considering the damage he caused to the storage unit.

“This crime boarders on being vicious because of the terrible stench and the damage done to this unit,” Race said.