Suburban NY woman indicted on pot-growing charges

AP News
Posted: Jun 18, 2013 6:45 PM

A woman from the ritzy New York City suburb of Scarsdale who is accused of raising thousands of marijuana plants was compared Tuesday to Colombian cocaine lords.

Andrea Sanderlin, 45, was indicted Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn on charges of operating a sophisticated pot-growing operation in a Queens warehouse.

"Whether you're a suburban mom growing marijuana in a warehouse in Queens or a cartel member making cocaine in the jungles of Colombia, manufacturing and distributing illegal narcotics comes at a hefty price," said James Hayes Jr., a Homeland Security agent, in a release announcing the indictment.

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said Sanderlin "chose to inhabit the shadowy underworld of large-scale drug dealers, using drug proceeds to maintain her family's facade of upper middle class stability."

A call to Sanderlin's attorney, Joel Winograd, was not immediately returned.

Sanderlin, a mother of two daughters, pleaded not guilty in May when she was arrested on a federal complaint. The arrest sparked comparisons to the TV series "Weeds," which chronicled a fictional California woman's attempt to support her family by raising marijuana.

Sanderlin has been held without bail since her arrest. No arraignment has been scheduled.

She faces two counts: manufacturing and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, and maintaining a drug-involved premises. If convicted, Sanderlin could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined up to $10 million, Lynch said.

After being tipped by an informant, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration followed Sanderlin's Mercedes from Scarsdale to Queens and found nearly 3,000 marijuana plants plus shelves, fans, lights and hoses, officials said.

The warehouse's big electric bill was also a clue, they said.

The DEA estimated the street value of the pot at $3 million.