Chipotle Shuttered After Employees Sold Pot To Undercover Officers

By Paul Gaita 06/09/17

Undercover officers purchased marijuana from one of the restaurant's employees several times over a period of weeks.

pedestrians walking past a Chipotle restaurant storefront

Three employees were arrested at a Chipotle restaurant in Radnor Township, Philadelphia, after selling marijuana to undercover police officers.

The individuals—22-year-old Robert Lane, 24-year-old Kydeem-Amad Shoatz, and 23-year-old Briana Davis—were taken into custody on June 7 as part of a raid on the location, which had been under surveillance for weeks after undercover officers bought drugs there on multiple occasions.

A half-pound of marijuana was found on one of the suspects, while drug paraphernalia was discovered in a toilet tank in the restaurant, prompting Chipotle to close the franchise location while health department officials and drug-sniffing K9 units investigated.

Court documents associated with police surveillance of the restaurant showed that undercover officers had purchased marijuana from Lane several times over a period of weeks.

Lane reportedly brought the drugs to the officers outside the restaurant and made the transactions there, which prompted concerns that the food he handled had been tainted.

"On the past purchases, [Lane] would come out of the store with the marijuana on his person, which indicates he had it on his person while he was handling food," said Radnor Police Superintendent Bill Colarulo. "You can't have employees handling controlled substances and working at a food establishment—it's unsafe."

Radnor Township Manager Robert Zienkowski said that health inspectors were looking into health code violations in the restaurant, prompted in part by the discovery of drug paraphernalia in a bathroom toilet and sink. "We're making them dispose of all the food because of health concerns," he said. "We're going to go through the whole inspection because of the suspected conditions of the restaurant."

Lane faces 24 charges, including felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia, while Shoatz was charged with 10 counts, including felony conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, criminal use of a communication facility and other drug-related charges.

Both were held after failing to post 10% of $30,000 bail following their arraignment on the afternoon of June 7. Davis was charged with a misdemeanor, while a fourth unnamed individual was questioned and released.

A spokesperson for Chipotle commented on the incident via email, stating, "These are serious allegations, and if true, represent completely unacceptable conduct in one of our restaurants. We will cooperate fully with the investigation to see that this matter is resolved." No word was given on if and when the location will reopen.

The arrest was the fourth such incident at a Radnor-area restaurant in recent years. This past May, a bartender at Estia Taverna was arrested on 10 counts of allegedly selling cocaine to undercover officers, while similar arrests have been carried out at a McDonald's location and Season's Pizza in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.