Chino real estate agent pleads guilty in marijuana-growing scheme in San Bernardino County, prosecutors say – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

A real estate agent in Chino pleaded guilty Monday to coordinating a scheme that used millions of dollars to buy nine houses throughout San Bernardino County that were later used to illegally grow marijuana.

Lin “Aaron” Li, 38, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, possess and distribute at least 1,000 marijuana plants, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Officials said Li facilitated the purchase, by way of Chinese investors, of nine residential houses in Chino, Chino Hills and Ontario.

“Li converted or allowed the conversion of the houses to marijuana grow operation,” prosecutors said. “Li also admitted in his plea agreement that the conspiracy trafficked marijuana, with most of the processed marijuana being sold to customers in California, Nevada and New York.”

Those nine residential houses were bought between May 2013 and Sept. 2017.

“Between Oct. 2016 and Sept. 2018, Li also created and signed false lease documents naming straw tenants for seven of the homes so they could be used to grow marijuana without being traced back to him or the other marijuana growers,” officials said.

Li was one of three people arrested in connection with the scheme.

Almost $90,000 was seized from Li’s house, and roughly 4,300 marijuana plants were seized by law enforcement from the grow houses.

“Li admitted in his plea agreement that these marijuana grows violated California law because they were not licenses to cultivate or sell marijuana,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Ben Chen, 43, of Alhambra, pleaded guilty in May 2019 to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Jimmy Yu, 45, of Pasadena, is scheduled to go to trial in February 2021, officials said.

Li is scheduled to be sentenced next March.

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