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A woman from a wealthy New York City suburb has pleaded guilty to running a multimillion-dollar marijuana-growing operation in a Queens warehouse.
Andrea Sanderlin, of Scarsdale, N.Y., admitted Monday in Brooklyn federal court that she operated the facility between 2009 and 2013. In a statement, she said the operation grew at least 1,000 pot plants and that it "sold the marijuana product from the plants."
Sanderlin lived in a $10,000-a-month luxury rental apartment, boarded a horse at a local stable and shuttled her kids around town in her Mercedes SUV. Pretty standard routine for a wealthy suburban mom who claimed she was running a high-end design and decorating firm.
But it was her side business that got her into big trouble. In May, the FBI and DEA followed Sanderlin from her home to a nondescript warehouse in Queens where she was running her marijuana operation.
At the time, we spoke with neighbors in Queens who watched Sanderlin come and go for months and had no clue what was going on inside the building. "She had the button on her truck so she'd open it before she got to the door. Soon as she got in it would close behind her," according to Anthony Cimino, a neighboring business owner.
The secret operation was revealed only when law enforcement agents descended on the warehouse. "All you heard was screeching tires. They came from that way, they came from this way. Guns were drawn," according to one neighbor. Another told us it was something right out of a TV cop show. "It was like a 'Law and Order' episode over here."
The case grabbed headlines for months because of the striking similarities to the Showtime series "Weeds" about a suburban mom who, you guessed it, ran a huge pot business. After initially pleading not guilty, Sanderlin changed her tune on Monday, admitting to growing thousands of plants from 2009 to 2013.
Sanderlin, a 45-year-old mother of three, is out on $500,000 bail. She faces 10 years in prison at sentencing.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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