A Murrieta man accused of maintaining an indoor marijuana grow near where his children slept pleaded not guilty Wednesday to drug- related charges.
Dortch, who is charged with operating an illegal drug lab, appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson, who scheduled a May 29 felony settlement conference.
Dortch— who is listed as the owner and operator of a Murrieta optometry practice called Spectrum Vision Center— remains free on $30,000 bail.
According to police, officers allegedly stumbled onto the illegal pot grow and DMT chemical manufacturing facility on April 20, 2013, after serving a search warrant at Dortch's residence in the 20000 block of Matador Way.
Investigators obtained the warrant as part of a vandalism investigation involving the defendant's 12-year-old son, who was arrested for allegedly causing more than $15,000 worth of graffiti damage throughout the city, according to Sgt. Don Weller.
After officers discovered the alleged cannabis cultivation operation, they seized the contraband and turned it over to the California Department of Justice for forensic analysis, he said.
The sergeant alleged the defendant was conducting illicit activity in the presence of his children.
Dortch was located and arrested without incident seven months later.
— City News Service.