A man charged following a police bust of a suspected marijuana growing operation was fined for stealing electricity on Thursday.
Vinh Hoang, 34, of Red Deer, pleaded guilty to the theft of electricity and was fined a total of $805, including a surcharge, in provincial court.
A charge of possession of the proceeds of crime was withdrawn but Hoang forfeited $3,130 in Canadian and American currency seized by RCMP in the March 2009 bust at a residence on Rutledge Crescent.
Federal Crown prosecutor Dave Inglis told Judge Jim Hunter that RCMP officers were watching Hoang’s residence when they noticed a man enter his house with an empty duffle bag and emerged later with the bag bulging.
Police obtained a search warrant and raided the house.
Inglis said police discovered a dismantled marijuana growing operation and seized various growing operation equipment.
He said police didn’t have sufficient evidence to lay growing charges but did have evidence of the residential power connection being altered.
Inglis said the wiring coming into the house had been disconnected from the power meter and diverted to the alleged growing operation.
He said this diversion is performed in order for the culprit to try to fool the power company into believing there is no dramatic increase in power consumption at a location.
Inglis said authorities couldn’t determine how long the diversion had been performed nor could they estimate the amount of power stolen.