SANTA ROSA (BCN) — An employee in the city of Healdsburg’s Electric Department was sentenced in Sonoma County Superior Court Thursday to six months in jail for stealing electricity to power his marijuana growing operation.
Travis Citro, 31, of Healdsburg, altered his electric meter and installed a sophisticated meter bypass to power lights and fans in a shed where 40 marijuana plants were found, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.
Healdsburg’s ordinance limits medical marijuana grows to three outdoor plants or six indoor plants for residential properties, Ravitch said.
“He was growing to profit from illegal sales – not for medical marijuana. He was armed with firearms. We will continue to distinguish those who follow medical marijuana laws from criminals who endanger our citizens and conduct illegal marijuana operations,” Ravitch said.
Healdsburg police found $37,180 in cash in $1,000-bundles and three handguns, including one loaded with a high-capacity magazine, in the lineman’s home Ravitch said.
Citro initially denied circumventing the power meter, but he admitted to installing a bypass with a trip switch under the house to cut off the bypass power if the meter were turned off, thereby avoiding detection, Ravitch said.
Healdsburg police and utility officials began the investigation after they received reports Citro was stealing electricity to grow and sell marijuana, Ravitch said.
Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite also sentenced Citro to three years’ probation for theft of electricity by a government employee in order to grow marijuana and illegal cultivation of marijuana, Ravitch said.
Citro was ordered to pay $38,854 restitution to the Healdsburg Electric Department for the theft and damage to the meter, and he forfeited more than $37,000 in cash seized from his home, Ravitch said.
Ravitch said Citro betrayed the City of Healdsburg and the customers he served.