10 Sweet Leaf marijuana dispensary employees formally charged in 'looping' scheme

Posted at 1:28 PM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 15:28:26-05

DENVER – Ten employees arrested earlier this month in a sweep of Sweet Leaf marijuana dispensaries in Denver and Aurora have been formally charged with varying degrees of marijuana distribution.

Five of those charged face felony charges of marijuana distribution of more than four ounces, while the other five face misdemeanor charges for distribution of more than one ounce.

At least 13 people were arrested when police raided multiple Sweet Leaf Marijuana Center locations on Dec. 14 after a year-long investigation into “looping,” in which the employees are accused of allowing buyers to buy an ounce of marijuana, leave the store, and return shortly afterward to buy another ounce.

In at least one incident, according to police reports, one person bought 10 pounds of marijuana in one day. Undercover officers were also able to make multiple one-ounce purchases in a day, according to the report.

In Colorado, people are only allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana at a time unless they have a special medical designation that allows them to have more.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced Thursday that 10 of those arrested were formally charged.

Facing felony marijuana distribution charges are: Stuart Walker, 24; Krystal Mauro, 30; Leeanne Henley, 25; Natalie Betters, 25; and Deann Miller, 45. The charge is a class 4 felony in Colorado.

Facing misdemeanor distribution charges are: Christopher Arneson, 28; Cassidy Thomas, 22; Joseph Gerlick, 28; Andrea Cutrer, 26; and Devin Waigand, 22.

Curtrer and Gerlick were served with summonses on Tuesday, while the others were served on Dec. 20.

All who were charged were employees of various Sweet Leaf locations. McCann said all have since posted personal recognizance bonds and are currently out of custody, and all have court dates scheduled over the next month and a half.

The raids have closed the shops that were targeted for the time being, putting an estimated 300 people out of work, and costing some employees bonuses that had already been delivered, but have since been taken back.

One employee, who wished not to be identified so she could speak candidly about the raids and employees’ situations, said the raids were a surprise to everyone.

"I understand the idea of making people follow guidelines," she said, "I don't understand zeroing in on one company."

The woman told Denver7 that the sudden closure of the Sweet Leaf locations has put her family "at rock bottom."

"There's a chance we may have to move back home to stay with family," she said, "and borrow money just to figure out how to get my daughter back to the doctor again."