Chipotle executive Mark Crumpacker was arrested on seven counts of cocaine possession on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Crumpacker was leading Chipotle’s efforts to recover from E. coli problems the restaurant chain faced. He was allegedly caught ordering cocaine on 13 wiretaps, according to the New York Daily News. Three cocaine distributors and 17 other cocaine purchasers were also indicted. Katie Welnhofer, a producer for Fox Business Network, was also charged.
Crumpacker allegedly purchased around $3,000 worth of cocaine. Most of his purchases were just after Chipotle faced its problems with E. coli, according to Bloomberg. His first cocaine purchase allegedly happened days before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced E. coli had made many Chipotle customers sick.
Chipotle put Crumpacker on administrative leave once the cocaine charges were initially announced. He has not made a plea and has been released on bail.
“We are aware that Mark presented himself to authorities earlier today,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said in a statement. “He remains on a leave of absence from his job to focus on these personal matters.”
Chipotle has dealt with more than one E. coli issue over the past year. One of the worst outbreaks occurred last year in Washington and Oregon, and Chipotle had to close over 40 restaurants to handle the problem. That outbreak made 22 people sick, according to USA Today.
“Many people affected with Shiga toxin E. coli may not seek health care, so the number of people made ill by this outbreak is likely more than identified,” Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said at the time.
Chipotle also dealt with salmonella outbreaks in 22 of its Minnesota restaurants last year, and one California restaurant found nearly 100 people had contracted the norovirus.
Near the end of last year, at least 80 Boston College students became sick after eating at Chipotle, according to CNBC.
Chipotle’s sales and stock value have been negatively affected by E. coli outbreaks and other health issues. Chipotle uses fresh vegetables instead of frozen vegetables, which makes its food more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. Fresh vegetables are better for nutrition, but they also carry more bacteria. Around 3,000 people a year die from these kinds of illnesses in the United States.
The prosecutors for Crumpacker’s case claim cocaine dealers used livery vehicles to transport cocaine throughout New York City. Those being charged will face misdemeanors if they are found guilty.
Manhattan’s district attorney released a statement on the case when it was announced last week, according to Business Insider.
“Members of the ring allegedly used car services to deliver the drugs to buyers, including to delis, restaurants, bars, apartments, hotels, and the buyers’ workplaces. The defendants delivered to locations across Manhattan, including the Lower East Side, the Upper East Side, Chelsea, the Financial District, and Midtown, as well as areas of Brooklyn and Queens. Many of the sales took place in delis or Duane Reade and CVS pharmacies. Customers generally paid between $200 and $300 per transaction.”
Crumpacker received roughly $4.3 million in compensation from Chipotle in 2015, making him one of Chipotle’s highest paid executives, according to Fortune. Crumpacker became Chipotle’s chief marketing officer in 2009. He was the co-founder of Sequence, a California branding firm, before joining Chipotle. The most he will receive is a year in prison if he is found guilty of the charges.
The cocaine dealers involved in the case allegedly sold at least $75,000 worth of the drug in New York City.
[Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images]