Chipotle executive in charge of restoring firm's reputation faces 'repeat customer' cocaine charges

Mark Crumpacker, 53, allegedly bought cocaine on the same days when the Mexican grill was hit with food poisoning outbreaks and negative earnings reports


Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 05 July 2016 20:27 BST
Mr Crumpacker was one of the company's highest paid executives
Mr Crumpacker was one of the company's highest paid executives

One of the highest paid executives at burrito chain Chipotle is facing "repeat customer" drugs charges during a series of health-related scandals to hit the Mexican grill chain.

53-year-old chief creative and development officer Mark Crumpacker allegedly bought cocaine seven times since January this year, according to prosecutors, a big client of a drug gang in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Mr Crumpacker’s drug purchases were on the same days in 2016 that Chipotle was hit with a string of E.coli and norovirus outbreaks.

The executive, who was paid $4.28 million worth of compensation in 2015 according to the Securites and Exchange Commission, was in charge of restoring the company’s reputation.

His latest project was a new loyalty program, unveiled last week, called Chiptopia Summer Rewards, and he introduced chorizo to the menu.

His lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, declined to comment outside a New York court after his client did not enter a plea, posted bail and was released, according to Bloomberg.

Assistant district attorney Patrick Doherty said Mr Crumpacker spent almost $3,000 on cocaine deliveries to his apartment near Union Square in Manhattan.

The first order was 29 January, days before the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of its investigation into two E.coli outbreaks that made dozens of customers ill.

The second purchase was on 8 March, the same day Chipotle shut down a Massachusetts restaurant after four employees became ill.

Prosecutors said another order came on 27 April, when the restaurant chain posted a loss in the first quarter of 2016. Company revenue had plunged 23.4 per cent year over year, and analysts predicted another double-digit revenue decline in the second quarter.

On 11 May, the company held its annual meeting, and shareholders voted to approve a proxy-access proposal, supported by activists, in a blow to the board. Mr Crumpacker made another order.

The drug ring, which drove livery trucks around Manhattan, was reportedly responsible for the sale of $75,000 worth of cocaine - meaning Mr Crumpacker was allegedly responsible for more than 10 per cent of sales.

The executive was placed on administrative leave on 30 June.

“We are aware that Mark presented himself to authorities earlier today,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said in a statement to The Independent. “He remains on a leave of absence from his job to focus on these personal matters.”

He was previously head of marketing since 2009 and only took on the new job title in March last year.

There are over 1,500 branches of Chipotle across the US, Canada and Europe.

Mr Crumpacker told a young business leaders' festival in 2012 that a new restaurant was opening every 48 hours, and the company was started by his "good friend from high school", Steve Ells.

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