ATTLEBORO — The city won’t take immediate action against a licensed, but unopened, pot shop because one of its eight owners, Mark Rioux, faces criminal charges over what police allege was his involvement in an illegal marijuana growing operation.
Mayor Paul Heroux and City Council President Mark Cooper both conferred with City Solicitor Cynthia Amara and were advised Wednesday that no action is necessary “at this time.”
Amara said in an email to Cooper, which was copied to the mayor, that it’s too soon to take any action regarding the license of Rioux’s legitimate business, Bristol County Wellness Center.
“It is my opinion that the city is under no obligation to take any action against BCWC at this time,” she said. “At this point in time, the individual board member has been arrested. He has not been convicted. It would be premature (at best) for the city to take any action against BCWC.”
Heroux said he’s following Amara’s advice, but is troubled about the allegations.
“I am concerned about an arrest of this nature and what it says about who is doing business in Attleboro,” he said in an email to The Sun Chronicle. “No law abiding citizen wants any dishonest or illegal activity of any kind in Attleboro, especially around controversial issues such as the marijuana industry.”
Rioux, 36, and a North Attleboro real estate agent was charged by Attleboro police with conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws to traffic in marijuana.
He was arrested last week and pleaded innocent in Attleboro District Court.
Rioux characterized the allegations as “totally false.”
BCWC, is also known as Nova Farms and has provisional approval from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission to open a facility on Extension Street that will grow, manufacture and sell adult use and medical marijuana.
City special permits have also been issued.
Rioux is accused of conspiring with Marshall Muir, 39, of Warwick, R.I., in an illegal marijuana growing operation at 46 Eddy St. also known as Eddy Square.
Muir was arrested in July when police raided the site. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He pleaded innocent.
BCWC was expected to open sometime this summer after completion of extensive renovations to a former jewelry factory at 34 Extension St., but it’s been delayed.
Workers were on site Wednesday.
President and CEO of BCWC Derek Ross has not returned phone calls or email inquiries about the progress of the renovations or on the arrest of Rioux.
The CCC did not respond immediately to a Sun Chronicle request for comment, but Amara said that agency’s action could dictate what the city does.
“The CCC may also conduct its own investigation into the matter,” she said. “If the CCC ultimately determined that BCWC’s permit should be revoked, then the entity would not be able to lawfully operate its business in Attleboro.”