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Beth McCann

District Attorney

Second Judical District

201 W, Colfax Ave, Dept. 801
Denver, CO 80202

720-913-2000
Beth.McCann@denverda.org

News Release

January 25, 2019 Contact: Carolyn Tyler, Communications Director, carolyn.tyler@denverda.org, 720-913-9025

Sweet Leaf Owners Plead Guilty to Illegal Marijuana Distribution and Violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act

Denver District Attorney’s Office Secures Prison Time for Owners and Asset Forfeiture for Holding Companies

DENVER—The Denver District Attorney’s Office today announced the resolution of the investigation and prosecution into Sweet Leaf marijuana dispensaries. The three owners, Matthew Aiken (40-years old); Christian Johnson (50-years old); and Anthony Sauro (33-years old) each entered a guilty plea to one count of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (F2) and one count of illegally selling and distributing marijuana (DF4).

Per the terms of the plea agreement, Aiken, Johnson and Sauro will each receive a one-year prison sentence followed by one year of mandatory parole and a one-year probationary sentence to run concurrently.

“This case began thanks to a watchful citizen who observed the same people making multiple purchases of marijuana from a single Sweet Leaf dispensary in one day and tipped off the Denver Police Department,” said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. “The vast majority of Denver’s marijuana industry businesses and owners are reputable and responsible and strive to obey our marijuana laws. However, Sweet Leaf is an exception. My office will prosecute those who do not comply with our marijuana laws.”

Based on that initial citizen’s tip, the Denver Police Department conducted a year-long investigation that ultimately involved the Aurora Police Department, Colorado Attorney General’s Office, Colorado Department of Revenue’s Tax and Marijuana Enforcement Divisions, City of Denver Department of Excise and Licensing, Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Department of Justice. Two former store managers, Ashley Goldstein (33-years old) and Nichole E. West (32-years old) were sentenced to 30 days in jail in November 2018, as part of a plea deal and agreed to assist the ongoing state and federal investigations.

The parent companies of Sweet Leaf, Dynamic Growth Partners LLC and AJS Holdings, LLC, also pleaded guilty to violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and to Failure to File Return or Pay a Tax. The corporations will each pay a fine of $125,000 and agreed to not contest the forfeiture of company assets by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The plea agreements were entered into and accepted by a Denver District Court Judge this morning as part of a pre-indictment plea deal with the Denver District Attorney’s Office. In a separate, related action, as a result of their dealings with Sweet Leaf, 10 individuals were indicted by the Denver Grand Jury for “looping.” The plea agreements mark the completion of the Grand Jury’s work on this matter.

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