Hayward rescinds cannabis permit; investigates two other applications

A previously approved commercial cannabis permit was pulled by the Hayward City Council last week after a separate police investigation found links between the suspect of an alleged large-scale cannabis grow site and the applicant. In addition, two other proposed cannabis permits were removed from consideration the same night after the city received information of alleged ties to other unpermitted cultivation sites in Hayward.

An attorney representing Vista Development Enterprises, the applicant of a commercial cannabis permit slated for Davis Avenue in Hayward, argued  the man arrested by Hayward Police last January, Erik Salko, was not part of the company’s management or investment team, merely a consultant.

After Salko’s arrest, Hayward Police received a warrant to search his home. During the investigation, police said they found evidence that Salko was more than a consultant for Vista Development Enterprises, including an operations manual for the company, an estimate for flooring improvements to the Davis Avenue property in Salko’s name, evidence of business transactions that included “significant sums of money into the millions of dollars.” said Hayward Senior Assistant City Attorney Michael Vigilia.

“His relationship with Vista was more than a consulting relationship. It was more consistent with someone who is engaged in a management or investor activity with respect to that,” Vigilia added. The omission of the relationship from the cannabis operator’s application is grounds for rescinding the permit, which still had required approval of a land-use permit by the city, he said.

Scott Candell, an attorney for both the applicant, Igor Goldenberg and Salko, did not deny the presence of the binder and flooring receipts and said the evidence is not particularly compelling. “All of the things we are talking about are consistent with a consultant relationship,” said Candell.

Consultant often use their  address to allow to allow clients to form a article of in corporation in order to sign a lease, which requires an address. Later, the address was transferred two years ago to the corporate address. “Which is exactly what was happening,” said Candell.

Salko’s case was referred by Hayward Police to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, but the charges were dismissed hours priors to the May 7 council meeting, except one for having more than a ounce of cannabis in his home, Candell said.

The City Council was not swayed by the argument. Councilmembers made no comments and unanimously voted to rescind the permit approved last June.

Hayward’s own growing pains with its nascent cannabis industry continued Tuesday night. On a night when a new round of various cannabis permits were scheduled for approval, two applications were removed from consideration. Both cannabis businesses owned by the same applicant, Doug Chloupek.

Always on Time Consulting and Precision Apothecary, both cannabis microbusinesses, could be at risk of losing a chance for operating in Hayward.

City Manager Kelly McAdoo urged the council continue the discussion on the two applications “until further evaluation and investigations can be done based on the information that was provided.”

The contents of the information provided to the city the day before Tuesday’s meeting was not disclosed by the city, but was obtained by the East Bay Citizen.

In a letter, the city was tipped off to allegations that Chloupek was associated with an illegal “cannabis nursery” and “medical marijuana cultivation facility in Hayward.

According to screenshots of three Facebook postings from November 2016 to February of this year, Chloupek appears to be issuing notices of employment at two Hayward cultivation sites, in addition, to brokering the sale of facility in Hayward.

If true, each would be illegal, since none of Hayward’s permits have made it passed the conditional-use permit process required to officially open for business in the city.

Six other cannabis permits were approved by the council Tuesday. They include BAS Research, Empress Extracts, and Gurpreet Sing for manufacturing; Meristematic, Inc. for cultivation; CBRA, Inc. for delivery; and Mijosa, LLC for distribution.

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