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San Diego County man to pay $18,000 for stealing electricity to grow pot

February 9, 2010 | 11:23 am

A San Diego County marijuana farmer has been ordered by a court to fork over $18,000 for the electricity he stole to secretly grow his plants in a rented La Mesa home.

Yeng Vang, 23, of La Mesa was sentenced to 60 months in custody and five years of supervised release in connection with the theft of power he used from 2006 to 2008 to grow about 100 plants in two bedrooms. He also was ordered to repay San Diego Gas & Electric.

Vang pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. He admitted to installing a bypass around the home’s power meter so that he would not be billed for using high-intensity grow-lights.

“We’re pleased with the court’s ruling,” said Denise King, a spokeswoman for the utility. “Not only is energy theft against the law, it is unsafe and potentially dangerous.”

Authorities arrested Yang in 2008 on suspicion of seven charges, including cultivation of marijuana, possession of a dangerous weapon and grand theft. They discovered Yang’s stash when firefighters went to the home in the 4700 block of Troy Lane to put out a fire caused by one of the grow-lights, according to La Mesa police.

Vang was convicted of growing at least 100 plants, but at the time of the arrest, police said the crop numbered more than 200 plants.

“They were at various stages of growth, from brand-new to early stages, up to head-high,” said police Lt. David Bond.

Along with the pot plants, authorities found an unloaded short-barreled rifle with 10 rounds of ammunition in the master bedroom.

-- Amina Khan