A former marijuana enforcement officer and a Denver-based cannabis entrepreneur were indicted by a grand jury in connection with a massive trafficking ring that allegedly shipped marijuana out of state, while also fleecing numerous investors in a license-peddling scheme.
According to the indictment, first reported by the Cannabist on Tuesday, former marijuana enforcement officer, Renee Rayton; weed entrepreneur Scott Pack and his businesses Harmony Green LLC and HGCO LLC were charged as part of a broader interstate marijuana smuggling operation.
Growers and suspected middlemen in the operation, Travis Bridle and John Edward Loos, were also indicted.
According to the indictment obtained by the Cannabist, Pack’s businesses held 14 marijuana licenses but never made a legal sale. They instead used them as a front for the trafficking operation.
Pack and Rayton were already the target of fraud allegations in an operation that was illegally producing and selling millions of dollars worth of marijuana across state lines, according to the indictment.
Pack’s fraud issues came to light earlier this year, when he and his partner Rudy Saenz were sued by former investors who claimed they lost nearly $1 million.
Pack and Saenz apparently were using HGCO LLC as a shell company, which provided licenses that Harmony & Green LLC could never hold, according to the investigators.
“Harmony & Green LLC then scammed unknowing individuals into investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into a company, which never once sold legal marijuana in the state of Colorado, but provided a front for a successful illegal marijuana trafficking organization.”
Rayton, a former officer in Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), got pulled into the operation nearly a year ago, when Scott Pack offered her a six-month, $8,000-per-month job as a “compliance consultant.”
Rayton worked for Pack, while also pocketing cash from illegal operations, within only two weeks of leaving her MED job, violating the required six-month “cooling off” period before former employees can work in an industry related to their oversight.
But that’s the least of Rayton’s worries. She has been charged with violation of state licensing authority and conspiracy to commit cultivation of more than 30 marijuana plants.
Pack and his companies got hit with 11 counts, all felonies: racketeering, conspiracy charges, several counts of securities fraud, money laundering, forgery, tax evasion and attempt to influence a public official.
The story, which has attracted national attention, was referred by our favorite Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a letter to Congress dated May 1, 2017, when he railed against the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prevents Justice Department funds from being used for prosecutions in states with medical marijuana laws.
The letter, reported by Tom Angell of Mass Roots, created quite a stir this week when it was revealed that Sessions had asked Congress for authority to prosecute individuals in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use.
“Drug traffickers already cultivate and distribute marijuana inside the United States under the guise of state medical marijuana laws,” Sessions wrote. “In particular, Cuban, Asian, Caucasian and Eurasian criminal organizations have established marijuana operations in state-approved marijuana markets. The individuals in these organizations often find a place for themselves within state regulatory systems.”