SLO cannabis business owners play multi-million dollar shell game

November 5, 2021

By KAREN VELIE

Cannabis business owners in San Luis Obispo County are swapping properties and retail outlets worth millions of dollars as they fight to keep licenses and stay in business. And they continue to court public officials and employees following a federal investigation into bribery and tax fraud.

Helios Dayspring, a local marijuana mogul, transferred ownership of his retail cannabis shops to his girlfriend, Valnette Garcia, in 2020, before he pled guilty to tax fraud and bribery charges. In October, city staff canceled approval for the Natural Healing Center cannabis shop because Dayspring had not disclosed the bribery or the fraud during the application process.

That was not legal, Attorneys Randall Fox and Mark Beck argued in a meeting with SLO City officials. “Dayspring has no connection” with the retail store they said. Beck also described Dayspring’s bribes as “gratuities” given to “show appreciation.” Dayspring pled guilty to paying $32,000 in bribes to then-San Luis Obispo Supervisor Adam Hill for favorable votes on his cannabis business interests

Valnette Garcia

But, city attorney Christine Dietrick replied that Dayspring was currently involved in directing work at the site. She said he was creating a security plan for the business.

Fox defended Dayspring’s involvement saying he owns the property through SLO Broad LLC.

“He owns the building and he is obligated to complete the building and turn it over to NHC,” Fox said.

Dayspring, however, just recently purchased the property at 2640 Broad Street from several owners of Megan’s Organic Markets.

On Dec. 9, 2019, utilizing a $1.5 million loan from Dayspring, the property was transferred into CCKL Broad LLC, with members Levi Seligman, Keith Sweeney and Christopher Wright.

Dayspring purchased the property for $4.2 million on Sept. 15, 2021, with Levi Seligman signing the grant deed.

Seligman and Sweeney are owners of Megan’s Organic Markets, one of the three approved marijuana shops in SLO, according to city records. One of Dayspring’s former partners, who is not being named because of safety concerns, contends Dayspring also owns a portion of Megan’s Organic Markets

In the past, Dayspring has often been the primary owner of a project, even though formal paperwork does not indicate so. Dayspring has a long history of using limited liability companies in a scheme to conceal ownership stakes and under-report his income from cannabis sales. Dayspring has purchased real estate in employees’ names and later transferred the properties over to one of his companies, property records show.

While he spent millions on property, Dayspring claimed he made approximately $50,000 a year, employees said. The FBI and the IRS raided Dayspring’s home in March of 2020 and he pled guilty to the tax and bribery charges in Oct. 2021. He was to pay $3.4 million to the IRS, and cooperate in the government’s ongoing investigation, as part of a plea agreement.

Seligman, Sweeney and Wright are also partners in a marijuana grow near the top of the Cuesta Grade, along with Mitch Woolpert. Even though several agencies voiced concerns about their Green Gold Organic Collective project, it sailed quickly through the SLO County approval process.

Caltrans staff questioned the growers’ plans to access the property from the east side of Highway 101, near the top of the grade, on a fire road owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

“Currently, this driveway access is a designated fire road with a locked gate; Caltrans has no plans to remove the gate and convert this location into a full access public connection,” according to Caltrans correspondence to the county. “At this time, Caltrans would not issue an encroachment permit for work within our ROW at this location that would support the intensification of land use.”

The Santa Margarita Advisory Council asked the county to “request a sign-off from the U.S. Forest Service for use of the road prior to final approval of the project.”

Even though federal laws and county regulations prohibit cannabis cultivation “on sites that are surrounded by federal land or on property where the only access to a site is through federal land,” the SLO County Planning Commission approved the project on July 9, 2020.

Mark Woolpert, the owner of the property, said a neighbor is permitting them to access the cannabis farm through their property, an assertion the neighbor said is not true.

In an odd twist, the county lists Mark Woolpert as the owner of the Mt. Lowe Road property, with Heidi Harmon owning a percentage, which Mark Woolpert said was an error. Mark Woolpert said he knows two Heidi Harmons, the former mayor of SLO and a former employee, and that neither are involved in the property ownership or the pot farm.

Former-mayor Heidi Harmon did not return requests for comment. Mark Woolpert’s former employee denied any ownership of the property.

Former SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon and Helios Dayspring

On her financial disclosure forms for 2018, former-mayor Harmon reported three donations from affiliates of Dayspring’s Natural Healing Center, eight from affiliates of Megan’s Organics Market and four linked to the third winner of a SLO pot shop permit, SLO Cal Roots.

On the form, Harmon reports donor Christopher Wright, an owner of the Green Gold grow and former owner of the Natural Healing Center SLO property, lives at 473 Bernardo Avenue in Morro Bay, which is also the mailing address for the Green Gold cannabis farm.

Harmon reported receiving donations that coincided with a Dayspring fundraiser, from both Bonnie and Jamie Saucedo with an address also at 473 Bernardo Avenue in Morro Bay. The Saucedo’s daughter, Marissa Saucedo, is an owner of SLO Cal Roots.

After CalCoastNews questioned money Harmon received during the days surrounding Dayspring’s fundraiser, she filed an amended 460 report that no longer included the Bonnie Saucedo and Jamie Saucedo donations.

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aye-caramba

Reporter Velie is laying out the “how” and leading us to the “why”….. Mayor Harmon was likely offered gratuities ( bribes) in the form of “business opportunities”, partnerships and promises to get on the money train and advantage herself. It was presented as hidden and not really easily discoverable. She resigned as she saw the reveal occurring and as a “private citizen” could now defend herself more effectively. The federal investigation was heading towards her and she fled. All that baloney about climate advocacy is really cover… this really seems much more logical.


retiredpoliceofficer

With the kind of money at stake, the greed and skulduggery involved these people and or their associates could be dangerous,


Jorge Estrada

I don’t think so, these low level dirt bags are just performing self inflicted entrapment with laws that attract such scams. This is just a: if we do this and that and move it here after filing and recording we’ll be clear, works every time by design and the agencies get they’re payday. I call it fly paper.


IDBOUND

Mark and Mitch have family on all sides past and present all of which work or worked in judicial settings .Which could explain how they have strolled thru the legal processes with ease .Having boat loads of money hasn’t hindered their progress either


retiredpoliceofficer

Was one of them Judge Garret who retired with 4 years left in her term the day after the Dayspring bust was announced? She made a controversial ruling to benefit him


Jorge Estrada

Before hanging the judge, in fairness, what was the written evidence place before her ruling? In years past my knowledge of then Ginger Garret was a very pragmatic person who could laugh and be light hearted but never contrary to the law.


805thirdeye

I agree with Jorge Estrada.


retiredpoliceofficer

Judges make decisions contrary to law all the time. Ask any of the 36 Justices on the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. 18% of cases on appeal are reversed. Since most people can’t afford an appeal that figure could be much, much higher. I have personal knowledge of a Garret decision now on appeal where her ruling came from outer space, No one has ever heard of a judge walking off the job with NO notice and 4 years left in their term as she did,


Myself

Good God almighty this is nothing but a huge mess, thank you city of san luis and thank you to slo county board of stups, this whole racket should be shut down, this crap is costing the taxpayer bug bucks to deal with this malarkey, we were told from the onset that no taxpayer monies would be used when having to deal with the dope deal, I’m sure thats a crock of flop. Its most likely too late to stop this crap as the county and city would eb in litigation from dope lawyers for years but its starting to look like that may happen anyway.


kayaknut

Cant shut it down, cities and the county have already spent the projected tax money and actual tax money has fallen way short, so to shut it down would mean they would have to make large cuts, like all the personal paid to run this mess, never will happen.


slocalgal

“In an odd twist, the county lists Mark Woolpert as the owner of the Mt. Lowe Road property, with Heidi Harmon owning a percentage, which Mark Woolpert said was an error.”


Wait, what??? How could such an “error” occur? This is bizarre.


Someone needs to do an investigation about his entire tangled weed of cannabis dealings in SLO County, like Chris Lambert did with Kristin Smart. Break this case open because something stinks to high heaven!


Murse

Levi Seligman is Broker at Acquire Mortgage and Real Estate on Garden St in SLO.


Levi Seligman donated $300 (the maximum allowed donation in SLO) to Heidi Harmon on 10/28/2018.


Acquire Mortgage and Real Estate also donated $300 to Heidi Harmon on 10/28/2018.


Helios Dayspring held the fundraiser for Harmon at his home on 10/28/2018, where the money was donated by his buddies Levi Seligman and Christopher Wright. They are all interconnected.


The fundraiser was PLANNED by Nick Andre and he oversaw Heidi Harmon’s campaigns.


Nick Andre is involved in Megan Organics and Natural Healing Center.


Before handling Heidi Harmon’s campaign, Nick Andre helped Adam Hill’s campaign.


Nick Andre is also involved with Quinn Brady’s ‘partner’ (the father of her children), Adam Kirshner, who has been growing cannabis for decades. They met together with Cal Poly clubs promoting cannabis and arranged a tour of Kirshner’s cannabis grow in Los Osos.


slocalgal

I think it’s spelled Adam KIRCHNER. Quinn Brady’s husband or partner…the father of her children. He’s stayed under the radar somehow but has been growing cannabis for many, many years. Long before it was legal.


Nick Andre has also stayed under the radar somehow.


It’s obvious that Helios Dayspring’s friends and associates are in deep, trying to protect him and keep his enterprise going while he goes to prison. Helios probably expects to pick up where he left off when he’s out.


Levi Seligman, Keith Sweeney and Christopher Wright were all at Nick Andre’s fundraiser on in October 2018, which was at Helios Dayspring’s house. All listed as donors on Harmon’s campaign donor list. Seems like that’s the roster to find his conspirators.


Sweeney donated the max $300 but it was prior to that fundraiser.


don

Helios Dayspring, Nick Andre, Quinn Brady, and Megan’s Organic Market rigged the dispensary selection process in the City of San Luis Obispo to make sure they would get more points, and it’s a fact that MOM INC aka Megan’s Organic Market is a front for Helios Dayspring. The City of SLO let MOM SLO LLC get away with falsifying the initial permit application which hid Helios Dayspring’s $1 million dollar convertible note/future controlling ownership. Obviously this was utilized to hide his attempts to monopolizing of the local industry.


Then in Feb 2021 the City allowed MOM SLO LLC to transfer ownership to MOM USA LLC which was formed to add an extra layer of ownership to hide the actual owners of newly formed MOM INC a Delaware Corporation with Nick Andre, Tara Graves, Megan Souza, Eric Powers, and Mark Cardona as its board of directors. The shareholders of MOM INC were never disclosed because Helios Dayspring is the majority owner. The original MOM SLO LLC permit application was intentionally fraudulent and the subsequent list of owners was fraudulent going so far as to list Mark Cardona’s wife rather than Mark to appear more female owned.


Why Delaware you ask? Because the shareholder information of Delaware Corporations are secret unless there is a law enforcement investigation. The City of SLO doesn’t want more egg on its face so they are refusing to investigate or admit their oversight.


blr

Interesting how cozy these relationships are…can see on linkedin that Quinn Brady (Heidi’s former campaign manager) is currently Community Outreach Manager for Megan’s Organic Market. https://www.linkedin.com/in/quinn-brady-bb875b1b9?trk=public_profile_browsemap


Ricky2

Harmon and Dayspring, gifts that keep on giving.


debeddarn

Seems like Cal Coast News is the only investigating news around. Please support them and pass the information on to others. They also uncovered the bribe taking crook, Adam Hill.