Meet Andi Sanderlin, The Mom Who Ran A $3 Million Grow House

She drove a Mercedes GL4 SUV and rented a five-bedroom, four-bathroom Mediterranean-style home in Scarsdale for $13,000 a month. She purchased a Friesian trotter horse named Magi, but later sold it because it wasn't good for jumping.

Meet Andi Sanderlin: mother, equestrian, and the alleged head of a multi-million dollar weed operation.

Sanderlin was arrested May 20 on narcotics charges alleging that she ran a Queens grow house with about 3,000 plants worth around $3 million. She has been locked up in Brooklyn since her arrest and faces charges with a minimum of 10 years.

As any pot-growing suburban mom of three should, Sanderlin has an interesting backstory. The New York Times reports that the blonde 45-year-old grew up Andrea Shmalz in Virginia Beach with her mother and stepfather. In a neat bit of foreshadowing, friends say she was a bit of a pothead. She moved to Iowa to live with her dad, got kicked out of high school, moved back to Virginia Beach, got pregnant at 16, and finally, moved to New York, where she lived on Beekman Street at one point.

Not much is known about how she went from teen mom to mom kingpin, but her lawyer describes her as "highly intelligent." According to the Smoking Gun, she boarded one horse and leased another at Twin Lakes Farm, a Bronxville riding academy where she liked to ride with her daughter. She won several ribbons in a horse show there. In addition to her Mercedes, she owns a Jeep Liberty and a Chevrolet van. She once had a Maserati registered in her name. She told everyone she was an interior designer and that she sold baby furniture.

Sanderlin's empire crumbled when cops nabbed five men running a similar operation in Manhattan. One man flipped and told police that he knew a woman named Andi who drove a Mercedes SUV and who had fronted him plants and cash. Federal agents staked out her home and were apparently very unsubtle - neighbors noticed them, confronted them, called 911 and got confirmation from Scarsdale police.

Agents also tailed her to the Queens grow house and identified other grow houses via her Con Edison bill, which at $9,000 a month, paid in cash, was a bit suspicious, employees indicated. She apparently owed about $14,000 in unpaid bills for other warehouses she had rented in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The warehouses were registered under the name Fantastic Enterprises. One of those warehouses — and you really can't make this stuff up — was at 420 Tiffany Street in the Bronx.

As DEA agents arrested Sanderlin, another team staking out her house stopped the nanny as she left and found $7,900 in cash in her purse. US News reports the cash was intended for Sanderlin's boyfriend, the father of her youngest daughter. Agents found an additional $6,000 and books on growing weed and laundering money in the house.

Sanderlin has pled not guilty to the charges and is being held without bail.

[NYT, photo via DEA]