Montville police arrest Mel's Diner owner after finding 8 pounds of marijuana inside

Montville police found about eight pounds of marijuana in the second-floor of Mel's Diner at 266 Route 163. (Image courtesy of Google Earth)
Montville police found about eight pounds of marijuana in the second-floor of Mel's Diner at 266 Route 163. (Image courtesy of Google Earth)

Montville — Town police have arrested the owner of Mel’s Diner after they found 8 pounds of marijuana in an upstairs floor, they said in a news release Monday.

Melanie Lamperelli, 39, of 19 Richards Grove, Quaker Hill, told police the marijuana was for her personal use.

Officers found "a large amount" of marijuana after a neighbor called to report an open door at the Route 163 business on March 30, according to the release. The department obtained a search warrant and later found more marijuana inside the first-floor restaurant near a food preparation area. Marijuana was found there inside mason jars while numerous lasagna trays were discovered in the attic. 

Officers found about 8 pounds of marijuana in total and on Monday charged Lamperelli with five marijuana possession charges and second-degree reckless endangerment.

The possession charges include possession of marijuana with intent to sell, as well as possession of marijuana within 1,500 feet of a school or day care because the diner is near the Palmer Academy, a town-run alternative high school on Maple Avenue, Montville police Lt. Leonard Bunnell said.

Lamperelli arrived on the scene while police were searching the diner and told them the marijuana belonged to her and that she had planned to use it for baking, according to the release, which was posted on the department’s Facebook page.

According to the arrest warrant, Lamperelli told police that she is not selling marijuana, has not put it into baked goods, or given it to other people. She told police she smokes marijuana two or three times a day for medical issues and was in the process of obtaining a license to purchase medical marijuana.   

Police notified the Uncas Health District, the public health agency that serves nine Norwich-area towns including Montville.

Uncas Health District Director Patrick McCormack said the district conducted a food safety inspection — routine any time a restaurant has to close and reopen — and gave the diner the green light to reopen shortly after the police seized the marijuana.

The diner has reopened since the inspection, McCormack said.

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