AP NEWS

Washington cannabis farm focus of $4.8M Ponzi scheme case

February 3, 2020 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle cannabis farm owner was accused of operating a Ponzi scheme that took in $4.85 million from at least two dozen investors in Washington, Arizona, California and Texas.

Robert W. Russell, 60, of Duvall was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with civil violations of federal securities law, The Seattle Times reported Sunday.

No criminal charges were filed in the case involving Green Acre Pharms near Anacortes.

An SEC complaint filed Jan. 21 in federal court in California alleges that investors were enticed by promises of enormous profits from Russell’s farm.

Russell and his California partner, 40-year-old Guy Scott Griffithe, spent $3.5 million of the investors’ money on luxury cars, a yacht and other “extravagant luxuries, inappropriate personal expenditures, and unrelated business ventures,” the SEC complaint said.

The farm that closed in December was never profitable, authorities said.

Green Acre Pharms, which is the trade name for the Russells’ company, SMRB, also has been sued by at least one investor in King County Superior Court.

Neither Russell nor Griffithe could immediately be reached for comment. Attorney James Dickmeyer, who is reportedly representing Russell, did not respond to an interview request.