Oh dear things aren’t going well at Cura. Retired president Nick Sarnicola is embroiled with the courts over a former company, ViSalus alleged to be essentially a”pyramid scheme.” Current Cura CEO Cameron Forni, is the son of Oregon hotel executive. Forni, who now lives in Nevada, once worked as an apprentice at ViSalus and is a longtime associate of Sarnicola and other ViSalus executives .
- Sale to Massachusetts’ Curaleaf loses 2/3rd of value
- Former president implicated in courts over pyramid scheme
- New CEO closely associated with outgoing president
- Curaleaf says “internal factors within the operations of Select” that resulted in the Portland company “underperforming as compared to its stated business plan.”
- Former CEO Nitin Khanna still executive chairman although online posts have highlighted past rape allegations against him.
The Oregonian reports……Nick Sarnicola, hired earlier this year as president of Portland marijuana company Cura Cannabis, has left the troubled business as it works to complete its sale to a Massachusetts firm.
His departure is the latest upheaval at the Portland company – also known as Select Oil – which has endured a series of setbacks. In May, Cura agreed to sell to a Massachusetts company for nearly $1 billion but that deal has lost two-thirds of its value in the intervening months.
Previously, Sarnicola had been CEO of a Michigan company called ViSalus, which peddled protein powder and weight-loss products through a network of promoters in a practice known as multilevel marketing.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported in September that Sarnicola and ViSalus had settled multiple lawsuits that alleged the firm operated a “pyramid scheme” defrauding its network of distributors. ViSalus is also facing a $925 million court judgment in Oregon over placing nearly 2 million illegal robocalls.
Asked in an electronic message for details on his exit from Cura, Sarnicola replied only, “
Yes…I left because … you’re an idiot who has no life.”
Cura did not respond to a request for comment.
Cura’s current CEO is Cameron Forni, the son of a wealthy Oregon hotel executive. Forni, who now lives in Nevada, once worked as an apprentice at ViSalus and is a longtime associate of Sarnicola and other ViSalus executives.
Privately held Cura is in the process of selling its Select brand of recreational marijuana products to Massachusetts-based Curaleaf. When they announced the deal in May, the all-stock deal was worth nearly $1 billion and the companies boasted it was the largest transaction ever in the recreational marijuana industry. They trumpeted it as a signal of the market’s potential.
Curaleaf’s shares have plunged in the intervening months, however, and the two companies renegotiated their deal last month.
The transaction is now worth $314 million, a third of its original value, though the Portland company can earn significantly more for its shareholders – more than twice as much – if Select’s sales hit newly established sales targets next year.
Curaleaf said it insisted on reworking the deal after the vaping health crisis damaged Select’s business. It also cited unspecified “internal factors within the operations of Select” that resulted in the Portland company “underperforming as compared to its stated business plan.”
The vaping crisis is one of several issues that have buffeted the Portland company, which appears to use the Cura and Select names interchangeably in describing corporate activities.
The company’s roots trace to a scam that diverted money from Oregon retirees’ real estate investments into the marijuana startup that became Cura. That scandal sent a Lake Oswego investment manager to federal prison.
Separately, former Cura CEO Nitin Khanna stepped down last year after online posts highlighted past rape allegations against him. Khanna, who has denied the accusations, remains the Portland company’s executive chairman.