DENVER (CBS4)– What began with charges of international money laundering in Colorado’s legalized marijuana business is drawing to a close with much smaller dimensions.
Luis Uribe has pleaded guilty to two counts of marijuana possession in Denver Federal Court. He was one of four charged originally in a case in which involved allegations of bringing in money from Colombia to purchase a marijuana grow facility.
Previously, Uribe’s brother, Gerardo Uribe, was sentenced to 90 days in prison plus probation after pleading guilty to marijuana possession charges. Hector Diaz of Colombia was sentenced to time served. Diaz had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana.
The other person charged was Denver attorney David Furtado. The U.S. Attorney’s office has asked a federal judge to dismiss charges in his case. Furtado’s attorney argued that what his client was accused of was essentially legal under state law.
In 2013, federal agents aided by Denver police raided numerous marijuana dispensaries and grow houses. Marijuana plants, cash and records were seized. Furtado had been stopped with nearly $500,000 cash in his car. He has since forfeited the money.
The investigation went on for two and a half years. During that time marijuana has remained illegal under federal law, but the laws have changed under Colorado state law.
Luis Uribe’s attorney Rick Kornfeld told CBS4, “The laws have changed, the regulatory scheme in Colorado has changed, but most notably the evidence is such, there wasn’t a money laundering case. We didn’t plead guilty to money laundering. they were part of the allegations but not part of the outcome.”
It was shortly after the raids on Jan. 1, 2014 that recreational marijuana became legal to sell at dispensaries licensed in Colorado.
The vast difference between Federal and state law regarding marijuana has created a risky business according to Kornfeld.
“Colorado faces a real challenge. People in that business run a risk being in that business and the profits are such that people in that business are willing to take that risk,” said Kornfield.
He said Luis Uribe, 30, will no longer be taking that risk. In court he said his client is now in the cleaning business.