Grandmother convicted of maintaining a drug house

By: Nico Rubello | C&G Newspapers | Published May 3, 2013


MOUNT CLEMENS — Was a grandmother aware that her twin grandsons were dealing heroin out of her apartment?

That was the question that a jury was presented with during a recent trial in Macomb County Circuit Court.

Diane Henton, 68, and her grandsons, Mario and Marco Henton, both 20, were twice arrested on drug charges after two separate police busts.

On April 29, the jury ultimately convicted Diane Henton guilty on one of two counts of maintaining a drug house. The charge is a two-year high court misdemeanor.

The first time, police executed a search warrant in December 2011 at Diane Henton’s apartment on 19 Mile, across from Chippewa Valley High School in Clinton Township. The brothers reportedly told police at the time that they were dealing heroin out of the apartment to make it easier for suburbanites who were afraid to go into Detroit to get drugs.

Authorities found lines of heroin, along with razor blades and scales, in plain view on a family room coffee table, said Dena Keller, an assistant prosecutor from the Macomb County prosecutor’s drug unit.

The three Hentons were released on bail when, in March 2012, authorities again executed a search warrant at their new residence on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway in Sterling Heights. All three were arrested and charged again. Investigators alleged that they were trying to flush heroin down the toilet.

Assistant Prosecutor Dena Keller, of the Macomb County prosecutor’s drug unit, contended that Diane Henton knew that her twin grandsons were dealing heroin out of her apartment.

The twins testified on cross-examination that they were selling heroin to five to 10 people a day, but only when their grandmother was away, Keller said. However, the prosecutor said the grandmother was home during both searches.

Thousands of dollars in cash also was discovered at the two residences, despite the fact that the two grandsons were not working, Keller added.

But Dennis Johnston, a defense attorney for Diane Henton, argued that it was the twins who were maintaining the drug operation, not their grandmother. Johnston added that Diane Henton was not in the room where the drugs were found in either police search. He said the first time, she was in a bedroom convalescing from recent foot surgery; the second time, the drugs were found in a bathroom shared by only the twins.

The prosecutor said she hopes the case makes people aware that there is heroin in the community and that its effects are serious. Keller added that Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office and law enforcement teams in Macomb County will keep doing their best to keep the drug out of the community, but parental figures should be diligent in recognizing the signs.

Upon cross-examination, the brothers said they had been selling drugs since age 12, Keller said. Their father died shortly after their birth and their mother left them in their grandmother’s care as elementary-age children, she added.

This past February, Mario and Marco Henton pleaded guilty to four drug-related charges against them, including counts of possessing fewer than 50 grams of a controlled substance with intent to deliver on school property and delivering/manufacturing fewer than 50 grams of a controlled substance. Both brothers are awaiting a May 21 criminal sentencing.