The Collegian
Thursday, February 22, 2024

RC freshman arraigned on drug charges; hearing on Oct. 27

10:45 p.m.: This version ADDS information obtained from The Hoya about the charging document.

6:45 p.m.: This version ADDS information about Monday's arraignment and Wednesday's hearing.

Washington, D.C., police arrested a University of Richmond freshman, along with two Georgetown University students, on Oct. 23 on charges of maintaining a drug lab in a Georgetown dormitory building, metropolitan police said.

Police arrested John Perrone, a Richmond College freshman from Andover, Mass., and two Georgetown students, Charles Smith and John Romano, shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday on charges of conspiracy to manufacture, and possession with intent to distribute a highly hallucinogenic drug named Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), said officer Tisha Gant, spokeswoman for the metropolitan police department.

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.

DMT is an illegal, Schedule I drug, which means that the drug has no accepted medical use for treatment in the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

During an arraignment Monday, a U.S. District Court ordered Perrone and Smith to be held without bond until a 1:30 p.m. hearing Wednesday, while Romano was released and will not face charges, according to ABC 7 News.

If convicted, 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.

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

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

Todd Olson, Georgetown University's vice president for student affairs, sent an email message at 6:26 p.m. on Oct. 23 to residents of Harbin Hall, alerting them that the DEA had confirmed that DMT had been produced in the building with the intent to sell, according to a statement made by the university.

NBC 12 news reported that more than 400 Georgetown students were evacuated from the Harbin Hall, and many students were reportedly exposed to fumes.

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According to the charging document obtained by The Hoya (via ABC 7 News reporter Julie Parker), the responding officer was told by a DEA specialist that "the combination of chemicals present in the room were in themselves potentially highly flammable and explosive, and thus highly dangerous."

The DEA said that the manufacturing of DMT only posed a direct health risk to those living in the room where it was produced. The hazardous material would not pose a health risk to other residents in Harbin Hall, according to Olson's e-mail.

"On Saturday afternoon, University [of Richmond] police received a call from [metropolitan] police saying that they had discovered a drug lab in a freshman dorm room in Georgetown," said Brian Eckert, director of media and public relations.

That afternoon, University of Richmond police, assisted by Henrico County police, searched Perrone's dorm room in Dennis Hall, Eckert said.

Because of the dangers associated with methamphetamine labs, university police conducted the on-campus search as a public safety measure to ensure that Richmond students were not at any risk.

University police did not find or confiscate anything in Perrone's room, Eckert said.

Campus police Capt. Beth Simonds said that the university police was not affiliated with the arrest in Georgetown or the ongoing investigation.

Breaking a federal or state law regarding illegal drugs is a violation of the student code of conduct, Eckert said.

"If this were proven to be the case, the student would be subject to judicial action here," Eckert said.

Staff writer Jimmy Young contributed reporting to this story.

Contact staff writers Fred Shaia, Kristy Burkhardt and Jimmy Young at, and

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