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Pair pleads not guilty to running Doug Manor pot farm

Robert Diaz, 34, of...

By Kathianne Boniello

Two men arrested on May 31 and charged with running a $1.5 million marijuana farm out of a posh Douglas Manor home pleaded not guilty Tuesday at their arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Robert Diaz, 34, of 240 Mulberry St. in Manhattan, and Vincent Sansone, 38, of 302 Forest Rd. in Douglas Manor, were arrested eight weeks ago and each charged with criminal possession of marijuana after Brooklyn narcotics detectives raided Sansone’s home in Douglas Manor, the DA said. The neighborhood, known for its expensive homes and quiet streets, is generally regarded as peaceful.

Authorities in Brooklyn had the Douglas Manor house under surveillance after receiving a tip about a house in Queens being used to grow high potency marijuana, authorities said at the time of the arrests. At $1.5 million, the pot farm Diaz and Sansone were accused of operating was worth more than double the value of the $732,000 home in which it was allegedly run.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown joined forces with Brooklyn detectives and Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes to carry out the May 31 raid, which recovered 300 pounds of marijuana and 1,500 separate marijuana plants from the small, brown Tudor-style home. The case is now being prosecuted by the Queens district attorney, a spokesman for Brown said.

Diaz and Sansone, who entered their non-guilty plea before Queens Criminal Court Judge Joseph Grasso, could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges, the DA’s office said, and the pair were due back in court Aug. 15.

Diaz and Sansone were accused of using high-powered, overhead fluorescent lamps set up with timers and fertilizer-enriched soil to cultivate potent marijuana worth about $5,000 per pound at the house on Forest Road, Brown’s office said. The windows of the house were shuttered and the heat was maintained at 80 degrees as part of the farming process, the DA’s office said. The plants were grown in dirt-filled containers and were watered manually.

Sansone lived in a bedroom on the first floor of the home, Queens DA spokesman Patrick Clark said at the time of the arrests. The owner of the home was not a suspect in the investigation, Clark said, adding that Sansone rented the property for about $3,500 a month.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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