Brandon Topete, Henry Hewitt, and Charles Romanus

An illegal drug manufacturer was busted on Monday morning at a Hope Ranch Annex property that houses a preschool, leading to child endangerment as well as drug charges against property owner Charles Romanus, 52. He was arrested in his home on Nogal Drive on December 31 for rending powdered cocaine into rock cocaine, or crack, the Sheriff’s Office stated.

The school, which was on break at the time, was separated from Romanus’s half of the property by fencing; separate driveways were used to access each. The school had rented its space from Romanus for 11 years, developing extensive garden and activity centers, and had 11 children enrolled between the ages of 2 and 5.

Romanus also ran an animal rescue facility on the property; six cats were taken to county shelters. He was booked on felony child endangerment, felon in possession of firearm, and drug manufacture. Also arrested at the scene were Henry Hewitt, 32, for forged ID, and Brandon Tepete, 24, on possession charges.

Concerned parents are advised to call the Sheriff’s Office at (805) 681-4100 for information or to provide any tips about the operation.


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