Lawyer: Items seized from ETSU student were spices, candy and herbs for 'religious purposes'

Becky Campbell • May 20, 2013 at 2:05 PM

The lawyer for one man charged in a weekend incident at campus housing at East Tennessee State University said items seized in a search were cooking spices, sugar candy and herbs used for religious purposes.

Attorney Tom Jessee said his client, Rishi Malholtra, 19, of Germantown, had a small camp-type burner and herbs used in his Indian cooking in his Buccaneer Ridge apartment.

“The other items seized all have to do with his Hindi religion,” Jessee said, “they took some spices, they took some herbs, they took a small bunsen burner, there was no concern that those items were anything other than things he uses in his Hindi religion.”

Malholtra and three other ETSU students — Brandon Buchanan, 25, 1185 W. Mountain View Rd., Apt. 1201, Johnson City; Wesley Miracle, 22, 288 Arthur Road, Arthur, Tenn.; and Elias Crockett Ramussen, 22, 387 Hill Road, Harrogate — were all arrested Saturday after campus police found variety of drug-related items in their Buccaneer Ridge apartments.

Rasmussen was charged with possession of schedule VI drugs for resale, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a dwelling where drugs are used or sold and carrying or possessing a weapon on school property. Miracle was charged with possession of scheduled VI drugs for resale and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Malhotra Buchanan were charged with simple possession of schedule VI drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Malholtra and Ramussen were arraigned this morning in Washington County General Sessions Court and have a preliminary hearing set for June 19. Buchanan and Miracle are set for arraignment at 1:30 this afternoon.

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