More jail time and three years of probation are ahead for a former Menlo College student after he pleaded no contest to a felony charge of possessing marijuana for sale and a misdemeanor charge for possessing a synthetic drug originally believed to be "ecstasy."
Daron Wing Mark, 18, was arrested by Atherton police on Feb. 28 and charged with three felonies after marijuana, cocaine and a substance later determined to be methylone were found in his Menlo College dorm room. Methylone is described by the National Institutes of Health as a "designer drug" that is similar to MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy.
Mr. Mark pleaded not guilty to the three felony charges on March 3, but on March 12 pleaded to the marijuana-related felony and the reduced charge related to possessing methylone for sale on the condition that he would not be sent to state prison.
He was also originally charged with a felony count of possession of cocaine for sell. But District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said that the amount of cocaine found was so small his office determined it would be hard to prove Mr. Mark's intent was to sell the drug. So the charge was dismissed as part of the negotiated plea, he said.
Mr. Mark will now serve only about one month of his 90-day county jail sentence after time already served is factored in, and a legally mandated formula that essentially cuts jail time in half is applied.
Mr. Mark, a resident of Granite Bay in Placer County, was arrested after his student adviser found marijuana, along with scales, in Mr. Mark's room in the campus dormitory. The adviser searched the room after hearing rumors that Mr. Mark was selling drugs on campus, and seeing a photo of the student holding two large bags of marijuana, according to Mr. Wagstaffe's report.
A subsequent police search also reportedly produced cocaine, packaging material, invoice forms and $678 in cash, according to the DA's office.
Mr. Mark is no longer a student at Menlo College, according to spokeswoman Darcy Blake. "It's a rare occurrence that this type of thing happens to us," she said, but when it does, the college's practice is "to explore each case individually. In this case, he is no longer at the college."