Friends post bail for NY woman accused in marijuana grow operation
(CNN) — Suburban New York mom Andrea Sanderlin, accused of running a massive marijuana operation from a warehouse in Queens, was released on $500,000 bail Monday after four acquaintances came to her aid.
Four people — two of them claiming to be friends of the father of Sanderlin’s 3-year-old daughter and two claiming they last saw Sanderlin at a social gathering — contributed to the hefty bail.
Because of the unusual relationship between these people and Sanderlin, Judge Steven Gold said he was going to require signatures from Sanderlin’s mother and stepfather in Virginia, as well as her daughter’s grandmother, saying they approved of the posting before she was released.
Video from CNN affiliate WABC showed Sanderlin leaving court late Monday afternoon.
Sanderlin had been arraigned last week and pleaded not guilty to charges of manufacturing and possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and maintaining a place for manufacturing a controlled substance.
Eariler this year, police said they followed Sanderlin, 45, to a warehouse in Queens that was registered in her name. They found two rooms packed with more than 1,000 marijuana plants and large amounts of dried marijuana, along with state-of-the-art lighting, irrigation and ventilation systems to facilitate hydroponic growing, according to court documents.
Sanderlin’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 15.
“She’s entitled to the presumption of innocence and of all other constitutional protections that should be afforded to her,” Sanderlin’s attorney, Corey Winograd, said.
He said after Sanderlin’s arraignment last week that the mother of three was looking forward to getting back to her 3-year-old daughter and other children.
Brian Crowell, special agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration, described the case against Sanderlin in a June statement.
“The warehouse was filled with over $3 million worth of hydroponic marijuana, and the organization covertly produced 3,000 marijuana plants,” he said. When agents raided Sanderlin’s home on May 20, they found books on how to grow marijuana and how to launder money, according to the DEA.
Details of the case were first reported by The Smoking Gun website.
Originally from Virginia, Sanderlin was living in the upscale neighborhood of Scarsdale and driving regularly to Queens, according to court documents.
Authorities said a confidential witness tipped them off. The witness, who has been charged with participating in a conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana, told investigators in April that a person named “Andi” operated at least one marijuana-growing house in Brooklyn or Queens, according to court documents.
The witness later identified Sanderlin as “Andi.”