Douglas Manor pot growers avoid jail in plea deal – QNS.com

Douglas Manor pot growers avoid jail in plea deal

By Ayala Ben-Yehuda

Two men arrested last spring for growing $1.5 million worth of marijuana in a rented Douglas Manor home were sentenced Monday to five years’ probation, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Vincent Sansone, 39, and Robert Diaz, 35, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of marijuana and criminal possession of a controlled substance in a negotiated deal reached with prosecutors, a DA spokeswoman said.

Had the case gone to trial, the defendants could have faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Neither the DA’s office nor Sansone’s lawyer would discuss the details of the plea bargain and why it did not include jail time.

“It was as agreed upon,” said Leslie Nizin, Sansone’s attorney, when asked about the sentence his client and the other defendant had received.

Police acting on a tip raided the Tudor-style home at 302 Forest Rd. in May, recovering 300 pounds of marijuana and 1,500 marijuana plants, some as high as four-feet tall, the district attorney’s office said at the time.

Sansone and Diaz ran what the DA’s office called “a high-tech hothouse” in one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, using overhead lamps set on timers and fertilizer-enriched soil to grow a variety of pot six times more potent than ordinary marijuana.

The plants were watered manually in dirt-filled containers. Their potency could have earned the marijuana a street value of up to $5,000 per pound, Brown said after announcing the raid.

DA spokesman Patrick Clark told the TimesLedger last year that Sansone lived in a bedroom on the first floor of the house, while “virtually the rest of the home was given to the cultivation of marijuana.”

It was not clear at press time how long the defendants were held in custody.

A DA spokesman said last year that Diaz, of 240 Mulberry St. in Manhattan, had not lived at the Douglas Manor home with Sansone. Sansone’s attorney, Leslie Nizin, would not disclose where his client was currently living.

Clark told the TimesLedger last year that the house’s owner was not a suspect in the investigation.

City Department of Finance records showed the house is worth about $761,000, and that its owner has been Hsiu Ying Chen since 1984.

Attempts to reach Chen were unsuccessful.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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