Alleged pot grower enters plea

RIVERSIDE – A man accused of running an indoor pot-growing operation at an Eastvale home where authorities seized nearly 1,000 plants pleaded not guilty today to felony and misdemeanor charges.

Yongchao Huang, 32, of San Gabriel was arrested Feb. 25 following a Riverside County sheriff’s investigation into alleged illegal activity at 6475 Gold Dust St.

Huang was arraigned before Superior Court Judge David Gunn on a felony charge of cultivating marijuana and a misdemeanor count of stealing utility services. Gunn scheduled a July 22 felony settlement conference and allowed Huang to remain free on $40,000 bail.

According to sheriff’s officials, investigators were tipped off to a possible marijuana grow at the Gold Dust Street residence and a search warrant was obtained to access the two-story property, where deputies seized 921 cannabis plants.

”Deputies discovered the residence had been modified for the sole purpose of cultivating, processing and packaging marijuana for sales,” sheriff’s Sgt. Andrew Elia said earlier.

He said that along with the plants, deputies seized about a pound of processed weed.

Huang had re-routed circuits and rigged lines in the home to enable him to steal an estimated $7,600 a month in electricity to maintain the grow, the sergeant alleged.

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