Two former executives of the once high-flying Colorado cannabis company Sweet Leaf have pleaded guilty to felony drug charges and are serving 30-day jail sentences, the alt-weekly Westword newspaper reported.
The plea agreements by Nichole West, a former Sweet Leaf vice president, and Ashley Goldstein, an ex-retail operations manager, are contingent on their continued cooperation with ongoing state and federal investigations, a spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office told Marijuana Business Daily on Monday.
West and Goldstein are the first former Sweet Leaf managers to be charged in connection with an alleged illegal multimillion-dollar “looping” scheme that allowed some customers to make multiple purchases a day.
The DA’s office confirmed in August that the company’s three co-owners – Matthew Aiken, Christian Johnson and Anthony Suaro – were also under investigation and that a Denver grand jury was considering evidence in the case.
Former U.S. Attorney for Colorado Bob Troyer said in late September that a MJ company was under investigation by federal prosecutors, but he didn’t name the company.
West and Goldstein were booked into Denver County Jail on Nov. 29, according to public records.
Maro Casparian, interim public information officer for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, said each was charged with a Class 4 drug felony count of distribution of marijuana/marijuana concentrate of 4-12 ounces.
Goldstein additionally pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of marijuana distribution.
Sweet Leaf’s cannabis business licenses in Colorado were all revoked, including 26 cultivation, processing and retail licenses in Denver alone. The company has a store in Portland, Oregon, that is listed as being open.
Aiken, Johnson and Suaro struck a deal in October with state regulators that included paying roughly $2 million in fines and back taxes and agreeing to stay out of the Colorado cannabis market for 15 years.
More than a dozen Sweet Leaf budtenders were arrested and charged in late 2017 related to police raids, but the charges were eventually dismissed. Most of the dismissals required the budtenders to perform community service and make a modest payment to a charity.