Real estate agent could get life sentence for grow houses – Chino Champion

A Chino real estate agent is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison after pleading guilty Monday on a federal criminal charge of coordinating a scheme to purchase nine homes in Chino, Chino Hills and Ontario and turning them into marijuana grow houses, according to the U.S. Attorney Central District of California office in Los Angeles.

Lin Li, also known as Aaron Li, will be sentenced March 22, 2021 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, possess and distribute at least 1,000 marijuana plants, said spokesman Ciaran McEvoy.

Prosecutors allege Mr. Li, 38, used $4.06 million from Chinese investors to buy the homes between May 2013 and September 2017, and convert them into marijuana grow operations.

“Mr. 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,” Mr. McEvoy said.

The suspect created and signed false lease documents between October 2016 and September 2018 that named straw tenants for seven homes so the marijuana grown at the home could not be traced back to him or any of the other marijuana growers.

“Some of the false leases contained clauses prohibiting marijuana cultivation,” Mr. McEvoy said.

Down payments for the houses were transferred through wire transfers from China, and titles for the homes were transferred to limited liability companies of Mr. Li, who then served as property manager for the houses.

Authorities began investigating the marijuana cultivation operation in early 2018 after a Chino Hills resident reported there was an “overwhelming” smell of marijuana coming from a home in his neighborhood. The neighbor reported that no one appeared

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