Man accused of having marijuana grow operation, explosives at home

An Oil City man is facing charges in connection with what police allege was a marijuana growing operation at his home.

Police say numerous explosives were also found at the residence.

A criminal complaint filed by Erie state police said police received an anonymous tip last July about a marijuana growing operation at a Cedar Avenue residence in Oil City, and troopers went to the house to investigate.

Dana Sunderlin, 39, and a woman who also lived in the home answered the door and agreed to speak to police, the complaint said.

When asked about marijuana inside the residence, Sunderlin told police he had marijuana plants growing in his bedroom on the second floor as well as about one pound of loose marijuana in his room, the complaint said.

After obtaining consent to search the house, troopers “discovered numerous items indicative of a large scale marijuana grow,” including 36 marijuana plants and processed marijuana in Sunderlin’s bedroom, the complaint said. Troopers also discovered numerous explosive devices and explosive materials, the complaint said.

Sunderlin told police he had made the explosives in his house and shed and that the marijuana growing operation was his as well, the complaint said.

Police then left and obtained a search warrant for the house and outbuildings, according to the complaint.

Later that day, police said they observed and /or seized 36 marijuana plants, six large bags of marijuana, numerous items associated with the growing of marijuana, explosive materials, explosive devices, a personal journal containing detailed information about growing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

“It was immediately apparent that marijuana was being grown at this residence in large quantities to be used and distributed/sold,” the complaint said.

“It was also apparent that Sunderlin was very knowledgeable on creating large explosive devices,” according to the complaint.

Sunderlin claimed that he made “small fireworks” but police found “explosives the size of sticks of dynamite” and multiple pounds of materials for making explosives, the complaint said.

Police concluded that Sunderlin was “mass producing illegal explosives,” the complaint said.

Sunderlin told police there were about 150 explosives in his bedroom that he had made and that all the contraband in the house, both the marijuana and explosives, belonged to him alone, the complaint said.

Sunderlin admitted to police he would sell small amounts of marijuana and use the profits to buy marijuana for himself from a medical marijuana dispensary with his valid medical marijuana card, the complaint said.

Sunderlin said the medical marijuana is very expensive and of higher quality than he can produce so he sells the marijuana he produces so he can buy himself higher grade marijuana, according to the complaint.

The woman who lived in the house told police she would smoke the marijuana Sunderlin produced but that she didn’t have any part in producing it or the explosives, the complaint said.

Sunderlin has been charged with two felony counts of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, use/possession of drug paraphernalia and make/repairs/sells/ etc. offensive weapon.

He was arraigned last week and released on bail, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled March 24 in Venango County Central Court.