Five arrested at multiple pot grows | TheUnion.com

Five arrested at multiple pot grows

Narcotics detectives served search warrants at two separate properties belonging to the same couple Wednesday, eradicating more than 1,000 marijuana plants and arresting the owners and the trimmers on site.

Law enforcement is calling the two sites a criminal enterprise, and plan to prosecute all involved with felony cultivation charges.

Nevada City attorney Heather Burke, who represents several of those arrested, disputed the allegations and emphasized her clients are members of an environmentally conscious medical cannabis collective operating in full compliance with state law.

The Nevada County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Task Force initially executed a criminal marijuana search warrant in the 19000 block of Buckboard Road at a property belonging to Chephren and Cassandra Jennemann.

Upon arriving at the residence, detectives detained Linda Neely, 54, of Grass Valley, Muneca Osorio, 41, of Granite Bay, and Leslie Vivian, 65, of Toronto, Canada. Cassandra Jennemann, 28, and James Flanagan, 34, of Nevada City, arrived at the property while detectives were executing the search warrant.

During the execution of the search warrant, deputies discovered multiple grow sites on the property that included an indoor grow, a small hoop house and a large greenhouse, said Sheriff's Lt. Bill Smethers. A total of 377 marijuana plants reportedly were located on the property in different stages of growth. Inside the residence, Smethers said detectives located approximately 20 pounds of processed marijuana cola, and one bedroom dedicated as a trimming room, as well as approximately 30 pounds of marijuana cola on stem.

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During the search, detectives reportedly located three recommendations on site, for Cassandra Jennemann, Vivian, and Flanagan.

According to Smethers, Vivian is Cassandra Jennemann's mother and told detectives she was on vacation.

Vivian reportedly admitted to detectives that her daughter had her obtain a California ID card and a recommendation for "security reasons," to cover the amount of plants being cultivated. Vivian said that she was allergic to marijuana and does not use it in any form, Smethers added.

"That threw up red flags," he said. "She's not even a citizen, she's just here on vacation."

Neely and Osorio reportedly said they were at the property to assist with the trimming and processing of the marijuana.

Neely, Osorio, Vivian, Cassandra Jennemann, and Flanagan were all placed under arrest and transported to the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility for booking on charges of illegal cultivation of marijuana and criminal conspiracy. All 377 marijuana plants were eradicated.

While still on the property, detectives contacted Chephren Jennemann, 35, as he walked out of the brush line, and he reportedly admitted that he was on the property the whole time.

"He claimed he didn't know who we were," Smethers said.

Detectives walked the area and located six or seven valid original recommendations thrown in the brush, Smethers said. All of the recommendations were either a duplicate of the ones detectives had already located or were for subjects that don't reside in Nevada County.

Chephren Jennemann subsequently also was arrested and booked on cultivation and conspiracy charges.

Detectives discovered an additional address for Cassandra Jennemann on Indian Springs Ranch Road, and determined that task force had received a complaint in July regarding an outdoor marijuana grow and two greenhouses on the property, Smethers said.

Detectives then obtained another search warrant for that residence, reportedly locating several more copies of the same recommendations at the Buckboard location. They also located two small hoop houses, a large greenhouse, and an indoor growing area that contained an additional 646 marijuana plants under cultivation, as well as 20-30 pounds of untrimmed cola on stem, Smethers said. All 646 marijuana plants were eradicated at that sire.

According to Smethers, the decision to charge the trimmers at the grow site with cultivation felonies is a resumption of an earlier attempt to hold all those involved in illegal cultivation responsible.

In 2014, the narcotics task force arrested a number of trimmers on Kentucky Flat Road and charged them all with felonies. At the time, Smethers said that was a "new angle" being tried by the Sheriff's Office because of the influx of trimmers, and said that particular section of the penal code typically is used to charge defendants for cultivating marijuana.

That legal maneuver petered out, however, with the trimmers all taking misdemeanor plea agreements; Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell said the decision to authorize the pleas was due to the fact that this case was a first for the county.

"The bottom line is, there is a due process issue. We had never used that charge before; people need to know we will use that before I start throwing the hammer down. That being said, (trimmers) are on notice now … that we will charge these cases, if they are involved in the illicit drug trade," Newell said in 2015.

Smethers said that "reprieve" now is over, and that anyone who trimmed last year should have known this was going to happen.

Newell confirmed Thursday that his office will charge trimmers in "clearly criminal" operations with felonies, using the code for cultivation to cover processing as well.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.