Busted Marijuana Dispensary Owner Craig Dieffenbach Loses Real Estate License Before It's Even Issued

Craig Dieffenbach
Prominent Seattle real estate developer Craig Dieffenbach was in court Monday owning up to accusations that he was the co-owner of a crooked medical pot dispensary busted last year by the DEA. Dieffenbach asked an Associated Press reporter to keep the hearing under wraps so that he wouldn't lose his job with a local realtor, but records show he just applied for his brokers license two weeks ago...on the eve of his guilty plea for federal drug charges.

As a developer, Dieffenbach helped revitalize Columbia City and also purchased several properties in Everett. He is best known, however, as the guy who tried to create a brand of vodka named after Jimi Hendrix. The product prompted outrage because the legendary guitarist's death was alcohol-related, and the Hendrix estate promptly sued and was awarded a $3.2 million judgement that forced Dieffenbach to declare bankruptcy.

Then, last November, Dieffenbach was caught in a federal crackdown on Puget Sound medical marijuana dispensaries. He partnered with his girlfriend Jing Jing Mo to operate the Seattle Cannabis Co-Op, which, according to the feds, was "flagrantly violating" state law and also trafficking large quantities of pot across state lines. An undercover informant worked a deal with Dieffenbach and Mo to buy $3,000 worth of pot and ship it to the Midwest. (Amusingly, Mo suggested the informant buy low-grade weed thinking Midwesterners wouldn't know the difference.)

Dieffenbach was slapped with drug conspiracy and money laundering charges, and he pleaded guilty on Monday. He forfeited more than $25,000 cash, and now faces up to five years in prison, though his cooperation likely earned him a lesser sentence.

After the court appearance, Dieffenbach was approached by an Associated Press scribe. According to the AP, Dieffenbach "declined to comment after the hearing Monday but asked a reporter not to write a story about the plea agreements because, he said, he could lose his job working for a Realtor."

It's unclear which realtor employs Dieffenbach (his attorney, Aaron Pelley, declined to comment when Seattle Weekly asked him about the remarks yesterday) but the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) says Dieffenbach just applied for a real estate broker's license two weeks ago. He passed the required test, but has not yet submitted the necessary paperwork, including fingerprints for a criminal background check.

Lynnel McKnight, complaint intake manager for the DOL, says applications are processed on a case-by-case basis and a criminal conviction wouldn't necessarily prevent Dieffenbach from becoming licensed. When told that Dieffenbach's recent money laundering and drug case, McKnight responds, "That's probably going to be an issue for him...he's probably not going to get a license."

Dieffenbach's girlfriend Mo also pleaded guilty Monday, as did Brionne Keith Corbray, owner of West Seattle's G.A.M.E. Collective.

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