SALISBURY, N.C. -- A law enforcement officer at a local VA hospital is accused of growing marijuana, with potential plans to expand his operation.
The Mocksville Police Department says growing marijuana is bad enough. Using water from a fire hydrant to water the plants is worse.
"It affects all of the town's payers, the taxpayers, the town's base," said Lt. Patrick Reagan.
In a partnership with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, Reagan says their department figured out that 33-year-old Thomas Gaskins of Salisbury was the one responsible.
"Anytime there's excessive water being used out of a fire hydrant or any public works facility, it does throw up a red flag," Reagan said.
This is where police say pot plants were. They say man who was VA employee was using fire hydrant to water them pic.twitter.com/GixdrObPO6— Dan Yesenosky (@WCNCDanY) June 15, 2016
But the amount of water he was using from the fire hydrant isn't what got Gaskins caught. Maintenance workers landscaping in the area saw the hose coming out of it.
"Followed the hose, and it led to a growing operation that was being conducted off the beaten path, so to speak, and away from the public's view," Reagan said.
About a dozen plants were removed and taken in for evidence. The Sheriff's Office says they also found a room in Gaskins' Salisbury home that looked prepped for more growing and they found some pot in his house.
Police say it's even more surprising because Gaskins is also a police officer with the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salisbury. Neither agency said if he was growing it for himself or to distribute to others.
"While this may have just been a bad mistake, a lack of judgment on this person's part, we certainly don't condemn them or condone their actions in any way, either," Reagan said.
The VA Hospital sent NBC Charlotte a statement, saying in part: "Gaskins is employed as a police officer at the VA Medical Center; however, he has been administratively moved to a function outside of the police service. As more information becomes available, we will take appropriate administrative and/or disciplinary actions."
Gaskins was charged with manufacturing marijuana and he'll also be charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Neighbors say his wife also works at the VA as a nurse.