NEW YORK (AP) — The Chipotle executive leading the chain's efforts to rebound after an E. coli outbreak that has sent sales plunging turned himself in Tuesday to face cocaine-possession charges, his lawyer said.
Mark Crumpacker, one of the Mexican food chain's top executives, heads marketing as its chief creative and development officer. Since the outbreak last year, Chipotle has been trying incentives, coupons and other plans to win customers back.
New York Police Department Sgt. Lee Jones said Crumpacker, 53, was arrested at 9 a.m. Tuesday on seven counts of possession of a controlled substance. Crumpacker's attorney, Gerald Lefcourt, said Crumpacker was not in New York over the weekend and turned himself in on Tuesday morning.
He was released on $4,500 cash bail and his next court date is Sept. 8, Lefcourt said. Crumpacker did not respond to a message left on his cellphone.
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said late Thursday it placed Crumpacker on leave following a New York Daily News report that he was among 18 customers of a cocaine ring named in an indictment by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
According to the indictment, Crumpacker bought cocaine on multiple dates between Jan. 29 and May 14. During that time, Chipotle was trying to manage the fallout from the E. coli outbreak that had come to light this past fall, as well as other subsequent food scares.
One of the alleged cocaine purchases came on the same day Chipotle temporarily closed a store in Massachusetts amid concerns that some employees had norovirus.
Crumpacker was given a pay package worth $4.3 million last year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Chipotle saw sales at established locations drop 30 percent in the first quarter of the year. The efforts to rebound have included coupons for free burritos, a summertime loyalty program, and plans to introduce chorizo as a topping in restaurants nationally.
The company said Crumpacker's responsibilities have been assigned to other senior managers.
"We made this decision in order to remain focused on the operation of our business, and to allow Mark to focus on these personal matters," Chipotle said in its statement.
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