New York City Business Owner Fined More Than $400k for Illegal Cannabis Sales

A New York City business owner who was illegally selling cannabis at several shops in Manhattan was ordered to forfeit more than $400,000 in illegal proceeds and unpaid taxes.

Full story after the jump.

A New York City business owner who illegally sold cannabis at several shops in Manhattan was ordered on Tuesday to pay more than $400,000 in taxes and proceeds from the sales, the Associated Press reports. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said that Rami Alzandani, the owner of the business, would not face litigation as part of a non-prosecution agreement and, as part of the deal can keep his stores open but cannot sell cannabis products. 

Azandani must pay $103,000 in restitution to the state Department of Tax and Finance, and forfeit another $300,000 in illegal proceeds, the district attorney’s office said, according to the AP. Azandani’s stores will be subject to regular inspections over the next three years to ensure they are not selling cannabis products, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office said. All of the stores are located in Manhattan, except for one in Ridgewood, Queens. 

Under the agreement, Alzandani pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal possession of cannabis in the second degree and received a $5,000 fine. 

In a statement, Bragg said that public safety is undermined “when there is such a huge proliferation of unlicensed and unregulated storefronts selling cannabis products that have not been properly inspected.” 

His office said that it is pursuing other criminal investigations and is “in active conversations” with landlords to evict shops in violation of state law. Earlier this month, the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety approved a bill that aims to hold landlords accountable for knowingly leasing a commercial premises to a tenant who sells cannabis without a license.

Under the measure, the first time an unlicensed retailer is found operating at a leased commercial site, either the Sheriff’s Office under the NYC Department of Finance or another enforcement agency will issue a written warning to the landlord, which will provide the landlord with knowledge of the tenant’s unlicensed activity and allow the landlord to evict the tenant, the report says. If an unlicensed retailer is found operating in the same commercial premises after a warning has been issued, the landlord will be fined $5,000 for the first violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.   

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