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Breaking: RC and Georgetown students released for 90 days

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. District Court released a University of Richmond and Georgetown University student to the custody of their fathers on Oct. 27 until their next D.C. court date, which is scheduled for Jan. 24.

On Oct. 23, police arrested John Perrone, a Richmond College freshman from Andover, Mass., and two Georgetown freshmen, Charles Smith and John Romano, on federal charges of conspiracy to manufacture, and possession with intent to distribute a highly hallucinogenic drug named Dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

All charges against Romano, Smith's Georgetown roommate, were dropped during an arraignment on Oct. 25. After the suspects were taken into custody, Smith told police officials that Romano was not involved in any illegal activities, according to an article from the Washington Post.

During the trial, Perrone and Smith's attorneys declined their clients' right to the preliminary and pre-detention hearing.

Judge Deborah Robinson, the presiding judge at the hearing, granted Perrone and Smith a 90-day release at their permanent residences in Andover, Mass., where both suspects must:

* Submit to an electronic monitoring system, which restricts travel outside of a to-be-determined radius in the Andover, Mass., and the neighboring New Hampshire area.

* Report to federal pre-trial services and surrender their passports in Andover, Mass., by Oct. 29

* Follow substance-abuse testing

* Abide by the curfew regulations set by the federal pre-trial services in Massachusetts

* Abstain from all travel, with the exception of New Hampshire for employment purposes, and Washington, D.C., to make appearances in court and/or meet with their attorneys

The magistrate judge and the attorneys for both Perrone and Smith agreed that the release conditions were appropriate to prevent the flight of the suspects and protect the safety of the community.

When the court reconvenes on Jan. 24, both suspects will face federal charges of setting up a drug lab inside the ninth floor of a dorm room in Georgetown's Harbin Hall to manufacture the hallucinogenic drug DMT.

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On Oct. 23, metropolitan police officials discovered an alleged drug lab in Smith's dorm room, which is located on the ninth floor of Georgetown's Harbin Hall.

Three Georgetown freshmen, who live on the sixth floor of Harbin Hall and wish to remain anonymous, said that the ninth floor was a notorious "party floor" among residents in the building.

"After I went to the ninth floor on the first weekend," one student said, "I knew I never wanted to go back up there."

Shortly before 6 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, metropolitan police received a phone call regarding a foul odor coming from Harbin Hall, according to a report by CNN.

The anonymous sources said that the building's fire alarms had not been working, so an officer's knocking woke them at 6 a.m., and they were mandated to evacuate to a student center.

The three freshmen said that all 400 Georgetown students evacuated the building, and many students were reportedly exposed to fumes.

When police searched the suspect's room, they found drug paraphernalia and hazardous material, according to The Hoya, Georgetown's student newspaper.

The anonymous sources said that they had not heard of anyone selling drugs in Harbin Hall before, and they did not believe that DMT was considered a "go-to drug" on campus.

DMT is a highly hallucinogenic drug that can produce sensations of near-death experiences or dream-like states of mind is inhaled, ingested or smoked.

A DEA specialist told an officer that the combination of the chemicals in the suspect's dorm room were potentially highly flammable and exposing, according to a document obtained by The Hoya from ABC 7 News.

If convicted in January, Perrone, 18, and the other suspect could each face a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million, according to the DEA's federal trafficking penalties for an illegal, Schedule I drug, such as DMT.

The suspects' failure to appear at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24 will result in a separate offense, which could lead to additional fines and incarceration time.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Contact staff writers Fred Shaia and Kristy Burkhardt at fred.shaia@richmond.edu and kristy.burkhardt@richmond.edu

Conor McKeown, Georgetown '11, contributed reporting to this story.

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