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Chipotle CMO pleads guilty to drug possession

Misdemeanor charges against Mark Crumpacker can be dismissed after rehab, attorney says

Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Variety

Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle's chief marketing and development officer.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s top marketing executive plead guilty Friday to a misdemeanor drug possession charge that his attorney said would be dismissed if he completes a rehabilitation program.

Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer for the Denver-based chain, was named in June as a customer in a New York cocaine ring indictment. He pleaded guilty to a single count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday

Chipotle had placed Crumpacker on leave when the charges were filed in June, but he returned to work in September.

“We share Mark’s relief that this issues has been resolved and that it’s headed for a dismissal,” said Chris Arnold, the Chipotle’s communications director, in a statement emailed Friday to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Crumpacker's lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, said he expects the charge will be dismissed no later than January of next year, the Associated Press reported. Lefcourt said Crumpacker has already been getting treatment. The Manhattan District Attorney's office said Crumpacker also agreed to drug testing

Crumpacker had helped lead Chipotle’s efforts to overcome a precipitous traffic and sales decline after a series of food-borne illnesses at the fast-casual chain in late 2015.

When Crumpacker returned to Chipotle in September, Arnold has said, “After careful consideration and review, we’ve learned that any mistake Mark may have made in his personal life was not related to, nor did it affect, his work.”

Prosecutors said Crumpacker was caught on wiretaps 13 times ordering cocaine delivered to his apartment near New York City’s Union Square, the New York Daily News reported. 

On an Oct. 25 third-quarter conference call, Crumpacker told investors he was glad to be back at the company and working on restoring the brand’s image.

“I want to apologize to everyone for recent events in my personal life,” he said on the call. “I'm sorry that I caused a distraction for the company, and I want you all to know that I've put this behind me, learned from it and returned to my role in early September, excited and with a renewed focus and determination to help drive Chipotle's recovery.”

Despite the company’s efforts to recover from the illness outbreaks, same-store sales in the third quarter fell 21.9 percent despite a number of free-food giveaways and the start of the company’s first loyalty program.

In December, Chipotle ended its co-CEO structure when Monty Moran stepped down. The company said Moran will retire this year. Steve Ells, who had been co-CEO, took over as the sole CEO of the company he founded. Moran also immediately stepped down from Chipotle’s board.

After pressure from activist investor William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, Chipotle added four new directors to its board.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

TAGS: Fast Casual
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