Schenectady County

UAlbany cop had pot-growing operation at Duanesburg home, authorities say

Federal authorities charged a decorated University at Albany investigator and her husband with runni

Federal authorities charged a decorated University at Albany investigator and her husband with running a marijuana growing operation out of a pole barn they built at their home in Duanesburg.

Wendy and Kenneth Knoebel were arraigned on the charge of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana Wednesday in U.S. District Court for Northern New York. Both were released on their own recognizance following their appearance.

Wendy Knoebel has worked as a UAlbany police investigator since 1995. She received the Lawrence E. Gall Award in 2002, after “exhibiting excellence in police services” to the campus community, according to an article the university posted about her in 2009.

State police and agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration raided the couple’s home on Suits Road Tuesday and found more than 100 marijuana plants growing in a pole barn. They also recovered small amounts of marijuana from their home and other evidence suggesting they were running the growing operation, according to the federal complaint.

Investigators grabbed a written contract to build a radiant heat floor for the barn in Wendy Knoebel’s name. They also found a workout schedule in her name that was inserted in a plastic bag with the words “grow room” written on the outside.

State police discovered a three-room hydroponics system containing the plants. Also seized was drug paraphernalia, growing equipment and processed marijuana.

UAlbany Police Chief Frank Wiley deferred all comments to the university’s public relations office. UAlbany spokesman Karl Luntta declined to say whether Knoebel was suspended from her job and instead directed all questions to the authorities investigating the case.

“Any questions should be directed to the state police and DEA officers handling the investigation,” he said today.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment about the case. Adam Parisi, a Schenectady attorney defending the Knoebels, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Federal statutes pertaining to marijuana cultivation are much stricter than the existing state laws. Federal law classifies each marijuana plant as one kilogram of the drug.

If found guilty, the Knoebels are facing a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison and could receive a sentence of up to 40 years. A federal judge could elect to waive the mandatory minimum if either suspect has a clean record.

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