(NEW YORK) — The New York City mom accused of growing marijuana after the feds raided a Queens warehouse might have tried to grow marijuana in two other New York City boroughs, law enforcement officials said.
Andrea Sanderlin’s telephone number was listed on the Con Edison account for properties in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The electric utility said both of the accounts “had unusually high usage when they were active,” which federal agents said would be consistent with a facility’s “being used to grow marijuana.”
Her electric bills at the Queens warehouse also bolstered suspicion that led to last month’s raid.
As Sanderlin, 45, was placed under arrest May 20 by a Drug Enforcement Administration strike force at the warehouse in Queens, where she allegedly grew $3 million worth of marijuana, agents noticed her nanny and her younger child leaving the family home in Scarsdale, N.Y., a wealthy New York City suburb.
Agents watched the woman and the child get into a taxi and drive to a shopping area, according to court records. The nanny returned without the child and then hopped into a different cab with a brown leather bag. When agents stopped the taxi they searched the bag and “observed cash rolled up in bundles with a rubber band,” the court records allege.
The nanny told them that Sanderlin’s boyfriend and the father of her youngest child asked her to drop off the child and then “enter Sanderlin’s residence and get as much cash as she could out of the closet,” according to the court records, which note that she was carrying nearly $8,000 in cash.
Sanderlin, whose attorney says she has two young children, remains jailed and charged with narcotics offenses that could put her away for 10 years. A court hearing is tentatively scheduled for the end of the week. Her attorney, Joel Winograd, told ABC News he was working on a bail package that would secure her release before trial.
She has pleaded not guilty.
Anthony Flores, who lives across the street from the Queens warehouse, told ABC News that he had met Sanderlin a number of times.
“She introduced herself one day. ‘Yeah, we’re manufacturing baby furniture,'” Flores said she told him of her line of work.
Flores says Sanderlin would often ask him to move his car so she could park her 2010 Mercedes SUV in front of the warehouse.
“She’s a very attractive young lady,” he said. “I didn’t think anything of it. She said her store was on Fifth Avenue.”
Flores says he was outside his home May 20 when Sanderlin slowly drove past the warehouse, possibly noticing the undercover police vehicles parked in the area.
“Then all the guys came out,” he said. “It was just like, get down, open the door. It was nuts.”
Flores said Sanderlin didn’t want to get out of her car at first, and it took law enforcement 10 minutes to take her into custody. Sanderlin was then handcuffed and brought inside the warehouse where, DEA Special Agent David Lee, said, “agents discovered two separate rooms constructed within the warehouse designed to grow marijuana.”
“Each room contained state-of-the-art lighting, irrigation and ventilation systems to facilitate growing the marijuana,” Lee said.
It’s unclear how long she’d been running the alleged operation, but she registered the name “Fantastic Enterprises” in July 2007, officials said.
According to court records first reported by thesmokinggun.com, law enforcement agents from the DEA Strike Force seized more than 1,000 marijuana plants and large quantities of dried marijuana.
Sanderlin is now charged with intending to distribute.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell said the warehouse hid a “highly sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operation.”
“The warehouse was filled with over $3 million worth of hydroponic marijuana and the organization covertly produced nearly 3,000 marijuana plants,” Crowell said.
Flores, the warehouse neighbor, says agents spent the full day clearing out the warehouse.
“They were bringing out boxes into unmarked vans. It smelled funny,” he said.
A search of Sanderlin’s property uncovered books on laundering money and how to grow pot along with equestrian gear, officials said. She is an avid fan of riding horses and is believed to have lived in Scarsdale for six months.
Scarsdale neighbor Libby Barnea says she didn’t know the family, but couldn’t believe the news.
“I would never have thought anyone in Scarsdale would be involved in the pot-growing business,” Barnea said.
The investigation began in April when, court records say, a confidential witness told authorities a woman named “Andi” was growing marijuana in a building in Queens that houses a company known as Fantastic Enterprises.
Suspicions were bolstered when the local utility told authorities Fantastic Enterprises “was using an unusually high amount of electricity.”
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