Andrea Sanderlin may have taken a page out of Nancy Botwin’s book. The divorced mother of two from Scarsdale, N.Y., by all appearences led a comfortable suburban life, but she's just been accused of managing a multimillion-dollar marijuana-growing operation – much like the fictional character from the Showtime series “Weeds.”
On her Facebook page and YouTube channel, Sanderlin, 45, posts images of herself horseback riding and heartfelt messages to her daughter, Zoe. For her daughter’s birthday on March 28, she wrote, “I am so proud of you, you are growing into such a beautiful young lady…I hope when times get tough that you remember I am always on your side and love you very much.
In a YouTube video, Sanderlin is seen competing in a riding competition. In the clip’s description she wrote, “Only been riding for 6 mo.”
Sanderlin was arrested May 29 after federal agents stopped her car, brought her to a Queens warehouse her company owns and asked to search the building. Sanderlin refused but the agents had a search warrant and uncovered copious amounts of cannabis. She pled not guilty to federal narcotic charges and is being held in jail. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison, ABC News reports.
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Federal authorities uncovered more than 1,000 marijuana plants, large amounts of dried marijuana, state-of-the-art lighting, irrigation, and ventilation systems to facilitate hydroponic growing, according to court documents.
The warehouse held $3 million worth of hydroponic marijuana and the operation produced 3,000 marijuana plants, Brian Crowell, special agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in a statement Tuesday.
Federal agents had been observing Sanderlin for some time as she commuted from her wealthy Westchester neighborhood to Queens, sometimes in her Mercedes SUV. Between tips from a confidential informant and the warehouse’s unusually high electricity bill, as much as $9,000 a month that was paid in cash, investigators saw red flags, Newsday reports.
Originally from Virginia, Sanderlin lives in the upscale Westchester-area neighborhood where properties sell for between $1.2 million and $2.4 million. According to court documents, Sanderlin was seen driving three different cars: a Mercedes SUV, a black Jeep Liberty and a white Chevy van. She recently took up horseback riding and was planning to buy a horse, authorities said.
Besides the marijuana plants and equipment, federal agents also recovered books on laundering money, how to grow pot, and equestrian gear. They are also investigating whether Sanderlin operated other grow houses, Newsday reports.
Sanderlin’s attorney, Joel Winograd, says he hopes his client will be out of jail by the end of the week.
“Our primary objective is to get her released so she can be there for her two children. She has never been in trouble. She is a full-time mother and she is an equestrian,” he told ABC News. Winograd added that the charges are “shocking to anyone who knows her.”