'Marijuana grannies' jailed on pot charges

REDWOOD CITY, CA Aleen Lam, 72, and Virginia Chan Pon, 65, were arrested Friday after neighbors called police to report a burglary, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

When officers arrived, they found the door had been kicked in and nobody was home.

Through the broken door, police could see marijuana growing inside the house, Wagstaffe said.

Police obtained a search warrant and found 800 marijuana plants, $3,000 in cash and an electrical bypass that allowed the women to tap into a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power line to steal electricity, Wagstaffe said.

"This has not happened in the 34 years that I've been here," he said in describing the operation and the suspects' ages.

During an arraignment Monday, Lam and Pon pleaded not guilty to cultivation of marijuana, maintaining a house for the sale of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and unlawful theft of electricity from a utility, Wagstaffe said.

Both were ordered to return to court May 13 for a preliminary hearing. Neither woman had retained a lawyer, but they would be provided with court-appointed attorneys, Wagstaffe said.

With bail set at $100,000 each, Lam and Pon were still in custody late Tuesday, Wagstaffe said.

As for the two men accused of breaking into the home, they were arrested nearby. When officers pulled over a car that fit a description neighbors provided, they found Kitae Chae, 38, and Kenny Kong, 34, with thousands of dollars in cash and marijuana growing equipment, Wagstaffe said.

Both men pleaded not guilty to burglary and drug charges Monday. They remained jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail, Wagstaffe said.

Chae and Kong were also expected to be provided with court-appointed attorneys.

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