Months later, companies say Denver 4/20 organizers owe nearly $40,000

Representatives of three different companies said that they hadn’t been paid by the organizers of this year’s enormous 4/20 rally in Denver months after the event.

The Civic Center 4/20 rally in 2011. (Xuilla/CC)
The Civic Center 4/20 rally in 2011. (Xuilla/CC)
The Civic Center 4/20 rally in 2011. (Xuilla/CC)

Representatives of three different companies said that they hadn’t been paid by the organizers of this year’s enormous 4/20 rally in Denver months after the event.

“We just want to get paid,” said Sara Knutson, owner of Brown Note Productions, which provided audio and video for the sprawling marijuana celebration.

Knutson said that her contract called for her company to be paid in full before the event. She received a check for the full amount prior to the event, but it later bounced, leaving her without any payment, she said.

She told Denverite that she received $7,500 afterward but that her company still was owed close to $15,000 by the organizers.

“We’ve sent Santino letters. We’ve hired collections. Basically, he’s got his attorney involved. We’ve been after it, but he stopped returning our calls,” Knutson said, referring to event director Santino Walter.

Meanwhile, Pepe Breton, the co-founder of the Euflora chain of marijuana dispensaries is suing Walter and Civic Center Park Productions. The lawsuit claims that Walter and the production company owe $23,126 to Breton.

Breton told Denverite that he loaned tens of thousands of dollars to the event organizers for last-minute expenses and to get the rapper 2 Chainz to perform. He said that 2 Chainz was waiting in his hotel room for payment long after he had been scheduled to perform.

Six months later, Breton claims that he hasn’t been repaid any of the $23,000.

Miguel Lopez, the permit holder for the annual event, claimed that it had always been Breton’s responsibility to pay 2 Chainz. He also has said that he plays a fairly indirect role with the event, with Walter handling much of the management. Rob Corry, an attorney representing the organizers, declined to comment on the pending litigation. Walter could not be reached for comment.

Maurice Lucky, a representative of the JCJ Security company, testified under oath last month that his company also hadn’t yet been “paid in full” for services. He did not immediately return a call for comment today.

The event draws tens of thousands of people, filling Civic Center each year, but it hasn’t proved lucrative, according to Corry. This year has been particularly difficult because the city is threatening Lopez’s ability to continue holding the event, which is hurting their cashflow, the attorney said.

“The reality is we typically raise money for the upcoming event, and sometimes even pay some of the past due stuff, with what we’re raising for future. Now that this permit is up in the air we can’t raise any funds for the 2018,” Corry said.

Corry also said that this year’s event did not generate any ticket revenue. it was entirely free, while previously the event sold “VIP” tickets.

The future of 4/20 is up in the air.

Because Lopez was a leader of the event long before legalization, he has retained priority status to hold the event. In other words, nobody else can jump in and take the event if he still wants it.

However, the city has moved to strip that right from Lopez, alleging that the event this year was mismanaged. Lopez denied that allegation and said any problems resulted from factors out of his control, including contractors.

More on that here — a decision is expected next month. Meanwhile, Breton and Euflora are jockeying to take over Civic Center for 4/20, as we reported yesterday.

Today, Corry warned that the current organizers may fight for their right to the event.

“I’m thinking if you hold a rally in Denver around 4/20 and it’s about cannabis, you’re stealing something we’ve built. We built this. The notion of a 4/20 rally is not some international concept. We held the first one in Denver. We own it. It’s ours. We are monitoring that,” he said.

“… Of course, I can’t say we’ve been highly profitable the last few years.”

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.