In a case that qualifies for either a dumb-criminal award or as some type of conniving set-up, Sonoma County sheriff's deputies were led to a Sebastopol home by a sign out front reading: "Marijuana Sale $2130 lb."
The large sign tacked to a pole on the rural road appeared overnight with smaller letters noting "Call Armando," and the address on Lynch Road.
Deputies, alerted by a passer-by who saw the sign, said they went to the home on Wednesday and knocked on the door.
Initially, the occupant denied he was selling marijuana, authorities said.
"Wait a minute. The sign outside says you're selling marijuana," Lt. Tim Duke said was the deputy's response.
The man, identified as Armando Alvarezdevalle, 62, eventually acknowledged he was growing and selling pot, but to medical marijuana dispensaries and "other people," Duke said.
In the garage, they found an indoor "grow" of about 300 plants from 1 to 3 feet in height.
Alvarezdevalle had a medical marijuana card, but the Sheriff's Office said the grow was beyond what is allowed under the 30-plant-per-patient county guideline and there was no documentation that showed he was growing plants for other patients.
"He was obviously out of compliance," Duke said,
Deputies also found a loaded. 22-caliber revolver.
Alvarezdevalle was arrested and booked on suspicion of cultivating marijuana, possessing it for sale and for illegally diverting PG&E power for the cultivation operation.
He posted $10,000 bail and was released on a promise to appear in court Monday for arraignment.
On Friday afternoon, there was no one home at the house, which is set back from the road by a long driveway. Out front there was a children's swing set.
Alvarezdevalle telephoned later to deny that he put the marijuana-for-sale sign up outside his house.
"Absolutely not. Why would I put a sign there?" he said.
He declined further comment about the plants in his garage and said he needed to talk to an attorney.
Lt. Duke said Friday the deputy told Alvarezdevalle, " 'The sign has your name and address and price per pound.' He never denied the sign."
"It should be on one of the dumbest-criminal shows. The guy's basically posting that he's selling it," Duke said.
For passers-by and residents, the sign provoked curiosity earlier in the week. Some stopped to take pictures and wondered if the attitude toward marijuana has become so blas?that someone could advertise it like they were selling cherries by the side of the road.
"Was that a joke? They had no idea what it was about?" asked John Jarzynco, a nearby resident. "Was it some neighbor screwing with him?" he wondered. "Nobody could be that stupid" to put up a sign
"With something like that, you're asking at the very least to be robbed or the police to show up," said Evan Alexander, who drives the road regularly.
"I'm a medical marijuana patient myself," he said, noting that selling marijuana in such fashion is "grossly illegal. You're supposed to do that through dispensaries that are licensed."
(You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)