Longtime Portland marijuana activist Paul Stanford has been arrested for tax fraud, according to a news release from the Oregon Department of Justice.
Stanford, who heads a nationwide chain of medical-marijuana clinics, has a reputation as a controversial figure in pot activist circles, and his financial woes were first detailed in a 2007 profile of Stanford we titled "King Bong." The IRS last year revoked the tax-exempt status of Stanford's Portland-based clinic, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation.
Most recently, Stanford wrote a ballot measure that would have taxed and regulated commercial marijuana sales in Oregon. It failed to gain enough signatures for the 2010 ballot. Stanford, who did not immediately return a phone message today seeking comment, recently filed to put a similar measure on the 2012 ballot.
From today's news release from the Department of Justice:
Attorney General John Kroger today announced the arrest of the president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation on allegations that he failed to pay taxes for two years.
“In these tough economic times every tax dollar is crucial, and we cannot afford to let people cheat on their taxes,” said Attorney General Kroger.
Paul Stanford was arrested March 7 on an indictment charging him with two counts of Failure to File Personal Income Taxes for 2008 and 2009. He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 21 in Marion County Circuit court. Stanford is the president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF), an organization started in 1999 as a charitable 501(c)(3) foundation.
The indictment and arrest followed an investigation by the Department of Justice’s Charitable Activities Section and Criminal Justice Division.
A criminal indictment is merely an allegation. Every criminal defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In 2010, the IRS announced that it had revoked THCF's status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.
Senior Assistant Attorneys General Shannon Kmetic and Jennifer Gardiner are prosecuting the case for the Oregon Department of Justice.
(Photo credit: Leah Nash)