A Riverside County couple who leased a San Ysidro storefront to an illegal marijuana dispensary was ordered to pay $388,000 in civil penalties to the city of San Diego this week, city officials said.
Quirino and Bertha Gutierrez, who live in Menifee, were ordered to pay the equivalent of $1,000 a day for each of the 388 days the pot shop operated.
The couple own property on West San Ysidro Boulevard in a zone where marijuana dispenaries may operate but they never obtained a permit for the business, Chief Deputy City Attorney Mike Giorgino said in a statement.
A different marijuana dispensary operating at the property was closed in late November 2015.
In August 2016, the court entered a default judgment against the couple, imposing $12,399 in penalties and costs and barring them from leasing their property to any marijuana-related business without proper permits.
Giorgino said the city learned in March 2016 that another business was operating at the location and advertising marijuana products on the internet. The city filed a lawsuit in May.
A judge issued a temporary restraining order in September and a preliminary injunction in October.
The dispensary, known as the Luxury Care Healing Center, continued to operate — in violation of the court’s orders — and was raided in February 2017. Police seized about 10 pounds of marijuana, $3,484 in cash, edible marijuana products and concentrated products.
A default judgment of $425,000 was set aside after the couple’s former attorney admitted fault in failing to answer the complaint.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp granted the city’s motion for summary judgment in early June and signed the final judgment Tuesday. The judgment requires the couple to pay $388,000 in civil penalties and prohibits them from operating or maintaining a marijuana-related business on the property without a conditional use permit.
The dispensary’s owner, Ziad Putrus, also was ordered to pay $100,000 in civil penalties.
“Landlords of illegal dispensaries are no less culpable than their tenants, and we prosecute them with equal vigor,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a release. “If you are leasing your property to an unpermitted pot shop, we will hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
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