BAY CITY (WWJ) – A 63-year-old man is charged with stealing electricity to grow marijuana plants he wasn’t supposed to have.

Consumers Energy started investigating Earnest Deplanty after receiving a tip that he was stealing power at his home near Pinconning. When crews when to inspect the electric meter at the home, they discovered wiring was tampered to bypass the meter. The inspector also allegedly smelled marijuana, so he notified police.

State troopers responded and during a subsequent search found 27 plants in Deplanty’s house. Under the state’s medical marijuana law, he is only allowed to possess 12 plants because he is not a registered caregiver. Police also discovered 25.5 ounces of usable pot — far more than the 2.5 ounces legally allowed.

Consumers Energy investigators dug deeper and learned that Deplanty had apparently been stealing power for the past three years.

Deplanty was charged this week with delivering or manufacturing marijuana and fraudulent use of a public utility more than $500. He was released on a personal recognizance bond and is due back in court on Feb. 13 for a preliminary exam.

If convicted as charged, he faces up to four years in prison.

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