Pennsylvania is poised to begin selling medical marijuana in 2018, leading to a green rush of applications for state-issued grower’s licenses. Only 12 of the licenses are scheduled to be awarded, but the CEO of the licensee given the highest marks has been shown to have undisclosed past criminal charges.
An ABC 4 investigation found that AGRiMED Industries CEO Sterling Crockett had pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of “offering a false instrument” in 1988. At the time, Crockett was CEO a New York corporation called Precision Abatement that won multiple government contracts as a minority contractor.
Crockett’s indictment accused him of fraudulently acting as head of the company. He pled guilty and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge at the time.
AGRiMED Industries has already broken ground on their Greene County, PA facility, and the company got the top score of all 177 candidates who submitted grower’s applications.
“I still to this day believe I ran the business, I funded the business and so forth, but at the advice of my attorney, we pled guilty,” Crockett told ABC 4.
Crockett submitted a sworn affidavit with AGRiMED’s application stating that he had not been convicted of any serious crimes. “I thought I answered this correctly,” Crockett told the station.
For their part, AGRiMED told ABC 4 they’d updated the state with information on Crockett’s history.
Pittsburgh Steelers legend Jack Ham works with AGRiMED as a paid advocate. “This is the first I've heard of it, but I've known this man for a two-year period and I've gone to the wall with him,” Ham said.
But Pennsylvania state legislators were less convinced. “It's significantly concerning, and it brings into question the vetting process and how these companies were reviewed,” state rep. Eric Nelson (R-Greensburg) told the station.
State senator Jay Costa agreed. “We may need to go back and revisit the manner in which we conduct our investigations in terms of who is awarded these very valuable licenses,” Costa, (D-Forest Hills) said.
The cultivation licenses are being awarded by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health, who declined to comment on Crockett or AGRiMED specifically. “If there is someone who cannot meet the standards under the law, that person would have to be replaced or the organization would have to find a remedy for that,” department spokesperson April Hutcheson told the station.
She acknowledged that the state is still performing background checks on applicants, even though some licenses have already been awarded. More than 140 of the companies who were declined Pennsylvania grower’s licenses are appealing the decision.