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N.Y. 'Pot Mom' Andrea Sanderlin Pleads Guilty

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on October 10, 2013 12:07 PM

Andrea Sanderlin, the upscale suburban New York "pot mom," has pleaded guilty to spearheading a multimillion-dollar marijuana growing operation.

Sanderlin fessed up to running the highly sophisticated pot enterprise out of a Queens warehouse from 2009 to 2013.

Sanderlin's story draws parallels to the anti-heroes in shows like "Weeds" and "Breaking Bad" who entered the drug world to support their families. Was the guilty plea a sign of defeat -- or a tactical legal move?

Part I: 'Weeds'

Sanderlin, who spent her daylight hours in a $100,000-per-month mansion and her nights in the Queens warehouse, was busted back in May after authorities discovered more than 1,000 marijuana plants worth more than $3 million in the Queens warehouse. News of her story immediately welcomed comparisons to Nancy Botwin, the fictional protagonist of the Showtime series "Weeds," who also had three children and sold pot in a high-end suburb.

But this anti-hero wasn't going to fight the system until the bitter end.

Initially, Sanderlin pleaded not guilty to the charges. But she changed her plea Tuesday, reports United Press International.

It's not uncommon for defendants to plead not guilty as a strategic move. That being said, when prosecutors aren't inclined to offer a deal, sticking with a not guilty plea is a gamble. Instead, defendants often choose to plead guilty with the hopes of securing a lesser punishment.

A "not guilty"-plea strategy is essentially a game of chicken -- a game that this mother of three apparently wasn't willing to play.

Part II: 'Orange Is the New Black'

For Sanderlin's convicted charges, a sentencing judge will have a wide range of options to consider in meting out the real-life anti-hero's punishment.

Sanderlin faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing, reports UPI. However, she will most likely not receive a maximum sentence thanks to her guilty plea.

Depending on the prosecution's recommendation to the judge, as well as factors such as personal circumstances, lack of criminal history, and actual remorse, the judge may choose to enhance or reduce her minimum sentence.

Whether you're Nancy Botwin or Piper Chapman, whether you get caught or not, the lesson seems to be that drug trafficking doesn't make for a very happy ending.

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