A San Diego man accused of using more than a dozen homes in Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties exclusively to illegally cultivate marijuana pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 70 felony charges.
Chiaming Tim Hsu, 41, was arrested last month in Rowland Heights during a multi-warrant sweep targeting each of the homes he leased in Chino, Chino Hills, Hacienda Heights, Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside and Temecula.
The criminal complaint against Hsu includes allegations of conspiracy, identity theft, maintaining a residence for the purpose of illicit activity, theft of utilities and vandalism.
The defendant was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Jan. 6 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Hsu is being held in lieu of $540,000 bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, one of the conditions of his bail is a requirement that he prove any funds used to enable his release from jail were not procured through his alleged criminal enterprise.
D.A.’s spokesman John Hall said that during the Cannabis Regulation Task Force raids on Oct. 30, nine people allegedly employed by Hsu to tend to his marijuana plants were arrested. None were named.
Thirteen homes were searched, resulting in the seizure of 18,778 cannabis plants, Hall said.
“Bedrooms and other rooms in the homes were filled with cannabis plants in various stages of growth,” according to the D.A.’s spokesman.
Prosecutors allege $275,000 in electrical supplies were stolen as part of the multi-property grow operation.
The Cannabis Regulation Task Force, whose members include deputies, prosecutors, probation agents and officers from several municipal law enforcement agencies, has been conducting raids on a regular basis since last fall, mainly targeting illegal storefront marijuana dispensaries in cities.
There was no word on when the investigation into Hsu’s alleged illegal drug-making began. He has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.