Head shops ac­cused of il­le­gal sales

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Aleta Labak

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 low­cost 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.

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