SAN MATEO COUNTY (CBS SF) – A man accused of illegally growing nearly 7,000 marijuana plants on public land in San Mateo County's Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, near Los Altos Hills, pleaded not guilty Monday morning in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Juan Cuevas Sanchez, 37, was arrested July 21 in connection with a marijuana grow site where investigators found 6,889 marijuana plants and an unpermitted water diversion from a creek that had been illegally dammed.
Irrigation lines had been set up to carry water from a manmade pool to the plants, according to prosecutors.
"The water diversion is the main reason we charged this as a felony," Deputy District Attorney Crystal Chau said. "There was a substantial amount of water being diverted from a small creek down to a man-made pond."
"Without that environmental violation, it could've been charged as a misdemeanor," Chau said.
There were three gardens set up at the site.
"All I can tell you is that there are mitigating circumstances," defense attorney Jerry Lipkin said this morning about the case.
Sanchez is out on $10,000 bail and set to return to court on Sept. 27.
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