The operator of a now-defunct Half Moon Bay, California hemp farm has been charged with 33 counts of grand theft of labor for failing to pay his employees, the Bay Area News Group reports. In addition to the grand theft charges, David Wayne Jenkins faces misdemeanor petty theft of labor, and numerous unemployment and labor code violations.
If convicted on all counts, Jenkins faces more than a decade in prison, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told Bay Area News.
“His victims were very poor coastside residents who were really affected during the Christmas holiday season to have no income. But he has started restitution and the victims hopefully will all get fully paid for their work.” — Wagstaffe to Bay Area News
Jenkins owned Castle Management, also known as Castillo Seed, which operated a hemp farm in Half Moon Bay from January 2020 until March 2021, when the business shuttered after Jenkins ran out of money after failing to cultivate and sell crops profitably. Despite running out of funds, Jenkins repeatedly told his workers payments would be forthcoming; but they worked without pay from December 2020 to January 2021.
Prior to December 2020, Jenkins withheld taxes and other withholdings from employee paychecks, but failed to report or transmit any withholdings to state agencies, the report says. He lost the business’ workers compensation insurance on December 29, 2020, for failing to pay premiums but the employees continued working.
In all, the employees are owed about $138,000 and Jenkins has paid back about $107,000.
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Hemp Farm Owner Facing Grand Theft Charges