Wrong Kind of Dough

Authorities Investigate Alleged Money Laundering at Pizza Guru

Joshua and Dayli Braun, facing charges of marijuana sales and money laundering, were released from jail this week after a judge dropped both their $1-million bails, figuring they aren’t likely to skip town before their preliminary hearing on July 13. The couple were taken into custody two weeks ago after detectives raided HortiPharm Caregivers — a longstanding medical marijuana dispensary on upper State Street owned and operated by Joshua — and nearby Pizza Guru, a recently reopened popular organic pizza joint under Dayli’s name and management. The Brauns’ admittedly high bails, said lead prosecutor Lee Carter, were a reflection of what he called “the amount of profits they made from illegal activity.”

Dayli Braun
Click to enlarge photo


Dayli Braun

In the search-and-arrest warrant served at Pizza Guru — signed by Judge Frank Ochoa on June 9, five days before the raid — city police officer Shawn Hill stated he’s frequently encountered the practice of funneling dispensary profits through more legitimate businesses: “I have found that owners and employees often must resort to money-laundering techniques in an effort to hide the profit made from [dispensaries].” In this case, he went on, the Brauns allegedly deposited large amounts of cash — that, say authorities, were made by illegal means (i.e., selling marijuana) — in multiple bank accounts. That’s where the washing comes in, said Carter. “If you engage in certain activities involving a banking institution, in other words, you take your illegal gains and you put them through a bank … that’s money laundering,” he explained.

In order for someone to be charged with that crime, said Carter, they have to deposit more than $5,000 in dirty money in seven days or $25,000 in 30 days. The warrant reveals a snippet of the Brauns’ bank records, showing that Dayli in 2008 deposited a total of $57,705 in a 12-day period at the San Roque branch of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, with deposits ranging from $6,000-$9,000 every couple of days. More recently, Joshua Braun — between January 6 and May 3 of this year — reportedly deposited $47,142 at Rabobank. Tellers at the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Hill also wrote, told detectives that the bundles of cash brought in by Dayli “had an odor of fresh marijuana.”

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