San Mateo County prosecutors have charged the owner of a now-shuttered Half Moon Bay hemp farm with 39 counts of insurance fraud and labor violations after they alleged he failed to pay 33 employees between December 2020 and January 2021.
On Tuesday, David Wayne Jenkins, the owner of Castillo Seed Co., also known as Castle Management Group LLC, pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include 33 felony counts of grand theft of labor, a misdemeanor petty theft of labor and other labor code violations, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
Jenkins, a 37-year-old Houston resident, withheld taxes and other charges from paychecks but failed to report or transmit any withholdings to state agencies, according to the report. Employees were sent home after the stop-work order, and Castillo Seed Co. shut down in March after failing to turn a profit, according to the district attorney's office. Prosecutors allege that Jenkins withheld $138,000 in wages over two months. He has paid $107,000 as of last week and is expected to continue making restitution.
Jenkins also failed to pay premiums and lost workers' compensation insurance on Dec. 29, 2020, but continued to have employees work until the California Department of Industrial Relations issued a stop order on Jan. 28, according to the district attorney’s office. Due to the lack of workers’ compensation insurance, the company was fined $33,000 in February, which amounted to $1,500 for each of its 22 employees.
The Bureau of Field Enforcement, a branch of the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, began investigating Castillo Seed Co. in February, two weeks after it received formal complaints that the company’s employees hadn’t been paid in two months.
Jenkins is out of custody, and the case is set for superior court review on Jan. 19, 2022, and a preliminary hearing on Feb. 24, 2022. San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said, if convicted on all counts, Jenkins could face more than 10 years in prison. Wagstaffe noted that the county was alerted to this case by county Supervisor Don Horsley and Coastside Hope Executive Director Judith Guerrero, who provided rental assistance to the workers while they were unpaid.