By Carly Schwartz
An Oakland entrepreneur who rose to international notoriety with his successful chain of medical marijuana dispensary supply stores has been charged with 13 felony counts for allegedly defrauding his city out of tens of thousands of dollars.
According to the Alameda County District Attorney's office, Dhar Mann, the 27-year-old founder of weGrow (which dubs itself "the Wal-Mart of weed"), submitted fraudulent paperwork to an Oakland city grant program that inflated the costs he paid contractors for renovating his various businesses. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Mann submitted copies of cashier's checks made payable to contractors as proof he had made the renovations. But he actually paid the contractors much less and redeposited the checks in his own bank account, district attorney's investigator Frank Moschetti wrote in a court filing. The city paid Mann more than $44,000 based on fraudulent paperwork, Moschetti said.Mann's attorney insists the charges are "overblown" and that his client was simply "taking shortcuts" to navigate Oakland's complex bureaucratic system.
On Monday, Oakland officials rescinded a proposed medical marijuana dispensary permit due to its ties to Mann, who would have served as the business' consultant and landlord. According to the Oakland Tribune, Deputy City Attorney Arturo Sanchez nixed the permit for G8 Medical alliance on the guise that the organization "willfully ignored serious concerns."
Mann, the son of two prominent Oakland business owners, has his hands in an array of ventures in addition to weGrow. His Wikipedia page cites involvement in various real estate endeavors as well as Oakland's "near-monopoly" taxi company, Friendly Cab, which his parents own.
Since its inception in 2010, weGrow has opened outlets in California, Arizona and Washington, D.C. Mann gained widespread recognition after a 2011 National Geographic documentary, "Marijuana Gold Rush," chronicled his franchise.