Mark Bagdasarian, the Clovis pot dispensary owner who already is facing marijuana possession and distribution allegations, is now being hit with federal money laundering charges.
Federal prosecutors say Bagdasarian laundered money through ATMs at his Buds 4 Life dispensaries in Tarpey Village and Friant.
Bagdasarian on Monday pleaded not guilty to the new charges, which were included as part of an updated indictment initially filed last October.
Prosecutors say Bagdasarian would take cash from marijuana sales -- illegal under federal law -- and load it into the ATMs at the dispensaries, where it would be withdrawn as cash by customers.
Fresno attorney Anthony Capozzi, who is representing Mark Bagdasarian, said the government is working on the assumption that anybody who enters the dispensaries is illegal.
He said Bagdasarian installed the ATMs to help customers and avoid additional transaction fees charged for using credit and debit cards.
The initial indictment against Bagdasarian and his son, Ryan Bagdasarian, charged them with conspiring to cultivate and distribute marijuana and possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it. Mark Bagdasarian also was charged with cultivating marijuana.
Ryan Bagdasarian on Monday again entered a not guilty plea to the initial charges. He faces no new charges.
Capozzi said he plans to aggressively fight the case, an indication that no plea agreement is in the works.
"Our position is that the government is unnecessarily piling on here," Capozzi said.
Authorities also allege that Mark Bagdasarian bought property in the name of two of his children and two business partner's children with laundered cash.
According to court documents on the initial charges, between April 2010 and this month, the Bagdasarians conspired to distribute marijuana through Buds 4 Life, located at 3705 N. Clovis Ave. in Tarpey Village, and Buds 4 Life North at 16906 N. Friant Road in Friant.
The two Buds 4 Life collectives were among five dispensaries raided in June 2011 under state warrants and alleged to be profiting from marijuana sales, which law-enforcement authorities said is illegal under state law.
Even without the new charges, Mark Bagdasarian was facing the possibility of a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence in federal prison, and the possibility of up to life.
Ryan Bagdasarian is facing the possibility of a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence, and the possibility of life.
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