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California Cannabis Cultivator To Pay $1.1 Mln In Civil Penalties For Violations

A licensed cannabis cultivator in Salinas, California has reached a settlement with the county District Attorney and agreed to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties for violations related to a failed cultivation site in Salinas in September 2018.

According to a statement from the Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni, her cannabis enforcement unit reached a settlement with the owners and operators of California's Top Shelf and Top Shelf Family.

The case stems from a September 2018 site inspection by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which found violations of the Fish and Game Code related to waterways. Cannabis operators are required to enroll with the Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as the California Water Quality Control Board.

In addition, cannabis operators must obtain a license from the California Department of Food and Agriculture to cultivate commercially.

California's Top Shelf held a license for 10,000 square feet, but law enforcement officials found that the license had expired in August 2018 and the cultivation of cannabis plants was well over the 10,000 square feet allowance.

Law enforcement officials advised the operators to cease operations and not remove any of the products, but found the company's employees trying to move cannabis plants to another location in the middle of the night.

Officials also found that a significant amount of cannabis was removed from the site while more processed cannabis was found on site. All remaining cannabis plants were eradicated.

The operator of the cultivation site was Gino Galofaro, while the person named on the business documents was his father, Francesco Galofaro.

The cannabis businesses operated as California's Top Shelf Inc., California's Top Shelf Family Inc. and Alderpoint Real Estate, LLC. Both individuals and all three legal entities were named as defendants.

The owners did not admit wrongdoing, but agreed to the stipulated judgment.

The settlement requires the defendants to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties, $100 thousand to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for a Supplemental Environmental Project, and nearly $100 thousand in costs to the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, the Resource Management Agency and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In addition, the settlement imposed a permanent injunction on the business and the owners, prohibiting them from engaging in cannabis cultivation without a proper license.

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