Oregon medical marijuana operator sentenced seven months for federal tax crimes

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A part-owner and operator of two medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon was sentenced to seven months in prison Monday, marking what a prosecutor called the country’s first federal sentencing of a legal MJ business owner for tax crimes.

Matthew Price also was ordered to pay $262,776 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service during sentencing in federal court in Portland, according to The Oregonian.

Price, 32, pleaded guilty to four counts of willfully failing to file income tax returns in connection with his Cannabliss stores in Portland and Eugene. He admitted he didn’t file individual tax returns from 2011 to 2014 for income received from the operation of the dispensaries.

Price failed to report nearly $1 million of income and disregarded advice from three different certified public accountants who warned him not to use his business money to pay personal expenses, Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Uram said.

Price did anyway, spending $67,000 in cash on a sports car, $15,000 in cash on a Rolex watch and other income on vacations, homes and season tickets to the Portland Trailblazers of the National Basketball Association, Uram said.

“He essentially treated his business as a personal piggy bank,” The Oregonian quoted Uram as saying.

Price, who apologized in court, must turn himself in Nov. 1. Whether he’ll be able to continue in his marijuana business until then, or after prison, will be decided at a hearing Friday.

– Associated Press