UPDATE: A misdemeanor battery charge against former Ascend Wellness Holdings' (AWH) CEO Abner Kurtin has been dismissed, according to the Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts.
Cannabis Business Times' original reporting below.
Former Ascend Wellness Holdings’ (AWH) CEO Abner Kurtin released a statement saying charges have been dropped against him after he was arrested Sept. 6 on a misdemeanor battery charge in Southern Florida.
Kurtin released a public statement Sept. 30 regarding the charges: “Today, the charges against me were dismissed by the City of Miami Beach. My partner and I were involved in a verbal argument that was never physical at any point. I have apologized to her privately for my verbal actions, and we both moved on with our relationship in a positive manner.”
According to Miami Dade’s Clerk of Courts, a hearing was scheduled at 9:45 a.m. Sept. 30. Cannabis Business Times was not able to verify the information with the Miami Dade Clerk of Courts, as results of the hearing were not immediately available.
"I want to thank the Miami Beach police who acted appropriately at the time and did their job as police officers. Domestic violence is a problem in our society and should not be tolerated. Florida has put in place among the strictest mandatory arrest laws in the country to allow time to protect victims and diligence the circumstances. I thank the police officers again for their unwavering commitment to upholding the law and protecting the lives of many.
“Lastly, I would like to personally thank all who helped me get through this difficult event. I am profoundly grateful for those who supported me and were patient with the due process of law.”
Kurtin, who founded New York-based multistate operator Ascend Wellness, was released on a $1,500 bond and issued a stay-away order with pretrial conditional victim contact allowed, as previously reported by Cannabis Business Times.
Ascend issued a public statement Sept. 6 acknowledging the incident.
“The company is aware of allegations against CEO, Chairman, and Founder Abner Kurtin regarding a domestic-related misdemeanor,” Ascend officials said in the release. “The independent members of the company’s Board of Directors, through its Compensation and Corporate Governance Committee, are conducting an investigation of the matter with the assistance of independent legal counsel, Goodwin Procter, LLP.
“While the company cannot comment on an active investigation, it is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness and will continue to evaluate appropriate steps as more information becomes available,” Ascend officials said. “The independent members of the board are keenly attuned to the company, its shareholders, and employees, and the management team is focused on ensuring AWH continues to operate effectively during this time.”
Kurtin’s arraignment hearing was scheduled for Sept. 30.
Meanwhile, Ascend announced Sept. 28 that it named Chief Financial Officer Daniel Neville and President and Co-Founder Frank Perullo as interim co-CEOs, effective immediately, in what the company called a “leadership transition plan.” As part of this plan, Kurtin transitioned to executive chairman of the board.
“AWH has an incredibly strong foundation in place and remains well positioned to advance the goal of breaking down traditional walls in the cannabis marketplace and redefining the industry from the ground up,” board members said in a public statement. “As the company prepares to enter the next phase of its growth story, the board determined that now was the right time to initiate this transition.
“While the board executes its search for the company’s next CEO, AWH is fortunate to have Dan and Frank at the helm. They are both intimately familiar with AWH, and the board is confident that they are well equipped to guide the company forward and continue executing our strategic priorities during this period.”
Ascend’s search for a new permanent CEO continues.
Editor's note: Cannabis Business Times Editor Michelle Simakis contributed to this report.