Two Colorado Springs head shops are at the center of a 13-person indictment announced Tuesday.
The alleged criminal enterprise running the two storefronts illegally distributed nearly 200 pounds of cannabis.
The owners of Hoppz’ Cropz — Joseph Hopper, Dara Wheatley, Joseph Sergio Crivici and Adam Donaldson — are accused of leading an operation in which medical marijuana was purchased from licensed businesses and resold for a profit.
According to a news release from the Colorado Attorney General’s office, the Hoppz’ Cropz business model included selling low-cost items for much more than they were worth, such as a disposable lighter for $15 — and including a “free giveaway” of marijuana.
“The members of this operation had hoped they would be able to hide their alleged illegal activity in plain sight by pretending to be a legitimate business,” said Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in the news release.
A screenshot taken Tuesday afternoon of the Hoppz’ Cropz homepage showed the shops promote: “Free flower and shatter gifts with all purchases.”
The owner-managers of the Hoppz’ Cropz shops also are accused of not paying the licensing fees required to operate a retail cannabis business and excise taxes on recreational marijuana. Hoppz’ Cropz, LLC did have a sales tax account with the Colorado Department of Revenue for sales of paraphernalia and clothing but allegedly failed to report the proper figures on nearly $500,000 in retail sales, according to the news release.
Additionally, managers and lower-level members of Hoppz’ Cropz are alleged to have paid employees “under the table” to evade wage withholding taxes due to CDOR.
The defendants are charged with violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, money laundering, tax evasion, attempting to influence a public servant, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and other alleged crimes.
Joining Coffman at a news conference Tuesday at the Colorado Springs Police Department Gold Division were El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, Colorado Springs Police Deputy Chief Mark Smith and District Attorney Dan May from the 4th Judicial District.
“Using the legalization of marijuana as a front to illegally distribute marijuana is unacceptable and it is damaging to the owners of the legitimate licensed marijuana facilities that are complying with the state laws and local ordinances,” Smith said in the news release.