Colorado officials temporarily closed Greenway University, the first state-licensed medical marijuana school, after they found out owner/CEO Gus Escamilla and a chancellor both boasted felony convictions that hadn't been cited on GU's application. We subsequently discovered a second unmentioned felony on Escamilla's record -- and now, we learn there's an active Los Angeles County bench warrant in his name for domestic violence.
In an earlier interview with Westword, Escamilla didn't deny that in 2000, while living in California, he pleaded guilty to felony grand theft by embezzlement. "That all stemmed from me having Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma," he told us. "I was diagnosed in 1999, and I went through two years of radiation and chemotherapy. It was a very troubling time for me personally. I probably lost a hundred pounds, and when you've got such a serious illness and you're losing your business" -- he says he ran a mortgage and real estate office at the time -- "some things just don't get put in priority the way they should."
Nonetheless, Escamilla answered "no" to a question about past felony convctions on Greenway University's application for state licensure. Why?
Greenway University's campus.
"I was under the impression that the case had been expunged," he said. "I had an attorney that we paid to do that, and I assumed everything was okay -- because when you expunge a case in California, the guilty plea is set aside and they dismiss the case. But I later found out that the attorney is no longer around. She's been disbarred and fled to Mexico with a lot of clients' money."
Days later, a source provided us with documents from the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, showing that Gustavo Escamilla Isquierdo, Escamilla's full name, was accused of committing felony grand theft on December 20, 2001, for allegedly taking a 2002 Mercedes Benz. Additional accusations included identity theft, for unlawfully obtaining personal identifying information from one Shannon Orisio without her consent; forgery, for signing Orisio's name and that of a Hector Andrade with an intent to defraud; and making a false financial statement "by using a ficitious name, social security number, business name, business address and by representing himself to be another person and business."
In the end, Escamilla received a three-year suspended sentence on the grand theft count, which translated to probation for the same length of time. He was also ordered to pay restitution to Orisio in the amended amount of $7,080.20, as well as to stay away from her.
An image from Greenway University's website.
Escamilla didn't return a call for comment on this development, and as of this writing, he's failed to respond to another interview request regarding the aforementioned bench warrant, which went into effect on February 2, 2010 and remains active, according to the public information office for the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. The document, on view below, lists four misdemeanor counts:
California Penal Code 273.5: Corporal Injury on a Spouse, Cohabitant or Fellow Parent.
California Penal Code 136.1: Intimidation of a Victim or Witnesses.
California Penal Code 653M (A): Also known as the "No Threatening E-Mail Act."
At this writing, the Greenway University website remains online, continuing to tout itself as the first state-licensed medical marijuana school and encouraging investment. As for the number of enrollees impacted by the closure, Escamilla said the school had seen 3,000 students since it opened, but a Department of Higher Education spokesman revealed that only 112 people paid a required state fee.
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Look below to see the aforementioned bench warrant.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana PR firm files suit against Greenway University... talk about bad press."