|Photo: 9 News
|Chris Bartkowicz in his $500,000 basement grow operation, just hours before his loose lips sunk the ship
Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents have raided a Highlands Ranch, Colorado home just hours after a television news story teaser aired in which the homeowner boasted of $400,000 profits he hoped to garner this year from his medical marijuana grow operation.
This rapid unfolding of events serves to highlight a couple of should-be-obvious lessons that some in Colorado’s burgeoning medical marijuana scene have evidently yet to learn, among them, perhaps, “Never brag about six-figure pot profits in front of TV cameras, even if you’re sure you are legal.”
|Bartkowicz in the midst of giving the ill-advised interview which destroyed everything for which he had worked so hard
That’s a hard lesson Chris Bartkowicz is likely still trying to wrap his head around after Friday’s quickly developing events.
Bartkowicz, displaying startling naiveté, was freely bandying six-figure numbers about as he told Denver’s 9 News he had a $500,000 grow operation in the basement of his $637,000 home, from which he hoped to make $400,000 this year.
It’s the oldest mistake in the pot grower’s rulebook. You grow some nice plants, you’re proud of your babies, and you want to show them off. Understandable, but never a good idea, as long as there are ripoff-minded ruffians and DEA goons lurking about.
“I’m definitely hidden in suburbia,” the ill-fated Bartkowicz said in the TV interview.
Guess there’s nothing like a high-profile TV news story to get quickly and spectacularly unhidden.
The DEA agents carried away moving boxes and leaf-sized trash bags from Bartkowicz’s home Friday, “all presumably filled with marijuana plants,” reports 9 News
The agents confiscated Bartkowicz’s grow lights, as well.
In the earlier TV interview, taped two weeks ago and advertised Thursday night, Bartkowicz said his operation was “completely legal” under Colorado state law, which allows the growing and sale of medical marijuana since an initiative amending the state’s constitution to legalize medicinal pot was approved by voters in 2000.
Bartkowicz’s elaborate, state-of-the-art grow operation was hidden in the 2,000-square-foot basement of his palatial home. And hidden there it should have and would have stayed, if only he had been able to restrain himself from preening and bragging for the cameras.
“I’d like to see somewhere in the vicinity of $400,000 [in profit],” he said in the earlier interview, although he admitted he could make “as little as $100,000” depending on what happens with proposed law changes regarding medical pot.
Bartkowicz told the TV station he had been growing “for more than a year” without his neighbors finding out and without any criminal complications.
Of course, that was before the big interview on TV. Toke of the Town is betting that all his neighbors are quite aware of his recently departed basement garden by now.
“If my neighbors don’t know and no one else knows, how would I be a target?” he asked in the earlier interview. “I want to be invisible.”
Sigh. Well, Chris, dude, you would be a target by running your mouth on TV. Here’s a huge hit from the clue bong: “invisible” and “television interview” rarely exist at the same place, at the same time.
Bartkowicz told the TV station he never sold marijuana illegally.
“Why would I?” he asked. “Why would I want to risk my golden ticket?”
“I’m definitely living the dream now,” he said in the interview.
Funny how quickly that dream can turn into a nightmare when you talk out of turn.