Pot Grow House Bust Confirms Suspicions

One person has been arrested and four others detained in relation to marijuana growing operations at two residences in Piedmont.

The whole block filled with the scent of marijuana Tuesday afternoon when Piedmont Police lifted the door on the garage of 50 Nova Dr where they had discovered a pot growing operation. 

Neighbors watched as police pulled out piles of dried marijuana, plants, pots of soil, fans, specialized lighting, and other materials used for cultivation and stuffed much of the evidence into a trailer normally used by Animal Control. 

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous because of the proximity of her house to the site of the raid, said her suspicions had been confirmed.

"Two SUVs would come by once or twice a week," she said. "It seemed like the house lights were on a timer. We saw two young men coming and going sometimes. Why would two guys live in Piedmont with no children?"

Rebecca Erdiakoff, who lives on another street nearby, reported that two weeks ago a man had knocked on her door and made an unexpected request to purchase marijuana. 

"It makes a little more sense now–a random man arriving at my door to buy pot," she said, noting the proximity of her home to the apparent grow house. 

At 7 a.m. Monday morning police served a search warrant at 50 Nova Dr, arresting a 19-year-old man at the scene and confiscating 120 marijuana plants and approximately four packaged pounds of the drug, according to a department press release. A loaded Beretta semi-automatic shotgun was also said to be found inside what police described as a "sparsely furnished" single-family home. 

Evidence found at the Nova Drive house led detectives to a second grow house at 15 Crest Rd, Piedmont Police Chief John Hunt said in an e-mail to members of the media Tuesday afternoon. After obtaining an additional search warrant, police reportedly discovered two rooms in that single-family residence set up for growing and several pounds of marijuana, though no live plants were found. Police detained four adult suspects during the second search who were released later after questioning.  

Piedmont detectives had been investigating a group of individuals thought to be responsible for the alleged growing operations over the past week following a tip from the community. The police were able to secure the original warrant to search 50 Nova Dr from Alameda Superior Court Judge Eric Labowitz based on their research and observations during several hours of surveillance.

The investigation is ongoing and Piedmont Police are asking anyone with more information to contact Detective George Phifer or Detective John Florance 510-420-3013. 

Police have not yet identified the suspects in the case. Piedmont Patch will be updating this story as more details become available.

Waste time January 19, 2011 at 07:53 AM
Piedmont resident January 19, 2011 at 05:21 PM
While I do question the use of police resources to prosecute such a victimless crime, I disagree that the officers are "a disgrace". They are doing their jobs. The problem is with the laws themselves, that make this kind of growing operation absurdly profitable. I've talked to Detective Phifer in the past (when we had some items stolen from our carport), and he is an excellent and competent police detective.
Peter Schroepfer January 19, 2011 at 06:48 PM
"Why would two guys live in Piedmont with no children?" HAH! So busted!
Susan January 19, 2011 at 07:00 PM
I hope that the marijuana use by children in Piedmont can begin being more closely examined after something like this. I look forward to THAT follow up story.
Bob Piedmont Resident January 19, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Piedmont Police do amazing work - and Sgt Munoz is a great officer. It is one thing to grow pot, it is another to have people coming to your house to buy pot and running a street level drug operation. Nice job neighbors and police - the last thing that our community needs is people running drug operations.
Jeff D January 20, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Just curious...why would these suspects need a Beretta 12 gauge if this is a 'victimless' crime?
dan harvitt January 21, 2011 at 05:41 AM
I think that the pot should have been saved and been auctioned off as part of the Spring Fling auction. A green solution for our schools' financial problems?
edith garnovsky January 21, 2011 at 09:28 PM
I personally know the pot growers, and they're just entrepreneurs of the American system, graduates of our local Piedmont schools. Go highlanders!
Kimberly January 22, 2011 at 07:33 PM
I have to add, that Ofc. Cassateri is a stand up officer and great at his job. As his neighbor, friend and ER nurse, I can attest that he does his job well. I feel safe knowing him.
q January 24, 2011 at 08:28 PM
How much did this operation cost the Piedmont residents who fund the police with their tax dollars? Was it worth it? California has come pretty close to de-criminalizing pot, and I think probably should. It would take the criminal element, illegality and profit out of this type of 'grow' operation. Haven't we figured out yet that prohibition doesn't work. Prohibition creates crime.
Joe Collins January 26, 2011 at 04:50 AM
Piedmont police are a joke if I can say so from my experience of living there for 20 years. Remember that time the hobo was at Whitter Field and stabbed the cop (only thing thats happened in the last 50 years). The cop did not do anything, shot his gun and missed.. Just look at the Piedmont Post's Blotter section it is really sad. We all love that Piedmont is safe that but the police officers are crummy, racist old men that would not survive a single day in Oakland so they come to Piedmont to bust helpless teens for smoking pot. HA! Oh what we spend our tax money on. Oh yeah and every few years they need to upgrade their cars to make sure they stop all the "violent speeders from the outside world" that come through Piedmont and threaten our beautiful community!....psh Just look at Officer Price, he drives like a maniac and then goes giving out speeding tickets! What a great example you are for our youth sir :D Thank YOU YOUR HARD WORK. There are reasons why people not from Piedmont do not like it, cause the cops come to arrest you if your not white or a soccer mom picking up her kids from practice. You think this grow OP will stop kids from buying and using Cannabis? haha not going to happen. Pot is easier to get than alcohol or cigarette in Piedmont why? because it is not taxed and regulated through stores DUH! Growing up in Piedmont I will say this.. it is inevitable POT is everywhere and most Piedmont students use or try pot. My 2 cents -A Real Piedmonter
Dawn Davila January 26, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Not only am I a long time resident of Piedmont I also work here. I am amazed to hear anything but positive comments about Officers Cassettari, Munoz and Phifer. Any contacts I have had with these officers has been positive and professional. They are an asset to our city and the department. In response to a comment posted below, "We all love that Piedmont is safe that but the police officers are crummy, racist old men that would not survive a single day in Oakland so they come to Piedmont to bust helpless teens for smoking pot. HA! Oh what we spend our tax money on. Oh yeah and every few years they need to upgrade their cars to make sure they stop all the "violent speeders from the outside world" that come through Piedmont and threaten our beautiful community!" If you love that your community is safe, thank a cop. As a female I have never had a negative experience with a police officer in Piedmont. If you actually look at the facts a very small percentage goes into buying the officers new cars. I think it is prudent to keep those that protect us and yes even put their life on the line safe. Maybe your issue isn't with the police officers that walk the streets but the department heads. Cassettari, Muoz and Phifer deserve our graditude for a job well done.
Steve May 03, 2011 at 01:24 AM
This isn't that much weed. For Piedmont, yes, it is, but go two blocks down the road into Oakland and the police would simply laugh-- Much like they do at the Piedmont police force, a true joke to anybody not blinded by their love for a community rapidly dissolving into a shadow of what it once was. The only story here is that these people were stupid enough to grow it in Piedmont instead of just renting out some houses in Oakland and just getting a slap on the wrist. Sheer idiocy right there-- but not quite as silly as the pictures of these Piedmont "police" acting like they just took down Scarface.
AJ Marrival February 21, 2013 at 04:06 AM
I haven't seen that loser officer Cassetteri around anymore, I guess he was finally fired. He was a loser and a bully and when you talked to him you couldn't help but notice how stupid he was. Good riddance, now Piedmont is finally safe again.


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