SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – A Sacramento property owner is facing a nearly $500,000 fine after his tenants began growing marijuana without his knowledge.
Property owner Rodney Rose had rented a home to an older couple for more than a decade, collecting rent in person each month.
He says it was a good business relationship until the couple allowed their nephew to move in, who he said began growing marijuana.
“I was not made aware of this, until I received a bill in the mail, from the city of Sacramento, which I thought was a joke,” Rose told FOX40 Wednesday.
Rose says electricity spikes tipped off SMUD to the marijuana grow and eventually, Sacramento police raided the house.
Rose says he was never made aware of any problem until that bill came with no explanation.
In total, the city fined him close to $500,000.
His tenants were given a citation for $500.
When he called the city, he was told his window to appeal the fine had already passed.
“It was the first time I’d even heard about it. I never knew about the whole issue,” Rose explained.
Rose said he did get an extension and appealed the fine.
“Then COVID hit. Then everything was put on hold for a year,” Rose explained.
Eventually, he was given a Zoom hearing. His tenants even told police that he had no knowledge of marijuana growing on his property.
“Absolutely no consideration of anything, per his ruling, was given on our behalf,” Rose explained. “The ordinance that I was held under was whether I knew about this or not, you’re guilty. So, there’s literally no winning.”
FOX40 contacted the city attorney’s office for comment but has not yet heard back.
Attorney Mark Reichel says the ordinance was originally drafted with high fines to go after large criminal trafficking organizations, which move drugs across state lines.
“The city of Sacramento probably has the most aggressive, in the state of California, city administrative fines and penalties when they catch you growing marijuana without a permit,” Reichel explained. “The city council heard about this about two years ago and put something in the works for the innocent-owner defense. Some of the judges in Sacramento found this to be really abusive so they struck the law a few times. They changed it in December of 2019. Now, innocent owners can give proof that they were an innocent owner. They didn’t know anything about this.”
Rose, who has worked in real estate as a branch manager and loan officer, is now appealing his case to the state courts.
“I’d like to think I’m aware and I knew nothing of this ordinance that the city has. I’m just shocked that that’s how they wish to conduct business,” Rose said.
Attorney Mark Reichel says there are many similar cases like Rose’s in Sacramento which he says has the highest revenue of this type in the entire state.