Details have emerged about the personal life of the Scarsdale mom arrested for allegedly running a $3 million marijuana growing operation. She was kicked out of high school as a teenager, her estranged father told the Journal News, married and had a child at 18, divorced and filed for bankruptcy 22 years ago, and has three children with at least two different fathers.
Andrea Sanderlin, 45, was arrested May 20 after federal authorities searched a Queens warehouse and seized more than 2,800 marijuana plants, large amounts of dried marijuana, and state-of-the-art lighting, irrigation, and ventilation systems to facilitate hydroponic growing. If found guilty of narcotics trafficking, Sanderlin faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, thesmokingun.com reports.
Her father, Wesley Schmalz, said his daughter was kicked out of her Iowa high school. She then went to live with her mother in Virginia.
“She got herself thrown out of high school. I told her, ‘Well, you gotta get a job,’” Schmalz said. “Instead, she left and went [back] to live with my ex-wife and that was kind of it.”
Schmalz wasn’t sure what year she was kicked out, but Andrea Schmalz is listed as a junior in the Bettendorf High School yearbook in 1985. On her Facebook page, Sanderlin lists herself as a member of the 1986 graduating class of Bettendorf High School, located in Bettendorf, Iowa.
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Andrea Sanderlin met her ex-husband, William, in Virginia. They married and had one son together, Jason. She was 18 years old. In 1991 the couple filed for bankruptcy and divorced. Jason Sanderlin lived with his father. He has two marijuana arrests in Virginia and Maryland and now lives in New York.
William Sanderlin remarried. His now ex-wife Cheryl Sanderlin told the Journal News she couldn’t comment on the case, saying only: “[William] had custody of their son, and I raised him.... [Andrea] is estranged from her relatives, and you can understand why.”
Sanderlin's former father-in-law, James Sanderlin, "started chuckling" when the New York Daily News contacted him. "Isn't that something?" he said about Sanderlin’s arrest. "She and my son married young and have been divorced for upteen [sic] years. They had a son and my son raised him." But Andrea decided to keep her former husband's last name.
Her former mother-in-law, Priscilla Sanderlin, said the couple married too young. “After they broke up, we didn’t have any contact with her,” she told the New York Daily News. “So we were pretty surprised when we found out she was arrested.”
Sanderlin is a single mom with two younger children, ages 3 and 13. She now rents a 5,438-square-foot home on Saxon Woods Road in Scarsdale, N.Y., and has told friends and neighbors she is an interior designer in New York City.
Scott Tarter, owner of Twin Lakes stables, said Sanderlin took up horseback riding there eight months ago.
“She seemed like a nice lady,’’ Tarter told the New York Post. “I never saw her drink or smoke. I never saw her act erratic. She paid her bill with a check, so it wasn’t even this weird cash business.”
At one point in the investigation, federal authorities approached Sanderlin’s nanny as she was leaving the house. They found $7,900 in cash wrapped in rubber bands in her purse. The nanny, who is not named in court documents, was allegedly trying to sneak the cash to Sanderlin’s boyfriend, Victor Garcia, who is also the father of Sanderlin’s 3-year-old daughter.
When authorities asked the nanny what Sanderlin did for a living, said she didn’t know. “I just know that she told me she was going to work in the morning,” she said.