Federal authorities raided VIP Cannabis in Denver on Nov. 21, 2013. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file photo)

Owner of former VIP Cannabis dispensary in Denver pleads guilty

A third man indicted in connection with massive federal raids on Colorado medical-marijuana businesses pleaded guilty Tuesday, a move that leaves only one suspect still facing charges.

Gerardo Urbie, owner of former VIP Cannabis dispensary in Denver pleads guilty
Gerardo Uribe, who was one of the people targeted by federal authorities in a raid on marijuana businesses, spoke before Denver’s City Council on Sept. 9, 2013 asking the council’s help in getting licenses processed. (Denver Post file)

Gerardo Uribe admitted in federal court in Denver to charges of marijuana possession and conspiracy to possess marijuana. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the money-laundering and other financial charges that he had been facing, which could have resulted in a 20-year prison sentence. Instead, prosecutors will recommend that Uribe serve one year on probation, with 90 days of that coming in prison, according to the plea document.

Uribe — who owned the now-defunct VIP Cannabis dispensary, which was at the center of the raids — is the third suspect to plead guilty and avoid major prison time.

Two other suspects, Uribe’s brother, Luis Uribe, and a Colombian businessman named Hector Diaz, have previously pleaded guilty. Diaz was sentenced to time served. Luis Uribe, whose plea agreement calls for a 45-day prison sentence as part of a year of probation, is scheduled to be formally sentenced next month.

The only defendant still facing charges is attorney David Furtado, who federal prosecutors allege helped orchestrate a scheme to funnel money from Colombia through several bank accounts in Denver and then into the purchase of a warehouse for marijuana growing. Furtado has claimed his actions were legal under state law and protected from federal prosecution.

The November 2013 searches of VIP Cannabis and roughly a dozen other businesses and homes remain the largest-ever federal raids against Colorado’s medical marijuana industry.

John Ingold: 303-954-1068, jingold@denverpost.com or @johningold

This story was first published on DenverPost.com