Man pleads not guilty to growing marijuana illegally, damaging Wildomar home

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MURRIETA (CNS) – A 21-year-old man accused with another man of operating an indoor marijuana grow in Wildomar that contained hundreds of plants and caused major damage to the property pleaded not guilty Monday to felony and misdemeanor charges.

Rene Robert Luna of Wildomar was arrested along with James Everett Hill, 40, of Riverside after a Riverside County sheriff’s raid on the alleged illegal grow site in the 32000 block of Trailwood Court, near Union Street.

Luna and Hill are both charged with felony theft of utilities and misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana for sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis without a permit.

Luna was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Jan. 10 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

The defendant is free on a $10,000 bond. Hill, who is free on a $30,000 bond, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Friday. He’s also slated to return to court in January.

According to Sheriff’s Sgt. Glenn Warrington, in early September, area residents complained to the sheriff’s department about the possibility of illegal cannabis cultivation occurring at the defendants’ property. Following an investigation, deputies obtained a search warrant and served it at the house on Sept. 25, seizing 430 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, Warrington said.

“In addition, the electrical supply to the residence had been illegally altered allowing for the theft of electrical services,” he said. “There were additional rooms still in the process of being converted to grow rooms.”

Luna and Hill were taken into custody without a struggle.

Because of the major interior alterations to the house, code enforcement officials declared it uninhabitable, according to Warrington.

Luna has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County. Court records show that Hill has a prior misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence.