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ATLANTA -- RaceTrac Petroleum has sued a former franchisee for allegedly selling illegal relaxation brownies laced with synthetic marijuana, and then stealing sales revenue and alcohol and tobacco inventory, according to a Courthouse News Service report.
According to RaceTrac's lawsuit, Eric Banks, who operated a New United Petroleum Enterprises (NUPE) outlet in Ruston, La., violated his franchise agreement by "among other things, selling illegal drugs in violation of Louisiana law, failing to pay rent and failing to perform various obligations required by the parties' agreements."
The Lincoln Parish Narcotics Enforcement Team (LPNET) first purchased relaxation brownies made with synthetic marijuana, which Louisiana outlawed last July, on July 15 at the store. After advising NUPE that such sales were illegal, the team executed search warrants at five Ruston businesses, including NUPE, on Oct. 6, according to the report.
"The synthetic marijuana was packaged under the names 'Cush,' 'Blubonic Chronic,' 'Dank,' 'High Times,' 'New Dimension,' 'White Rabbit,' and 'Voodoo Spice.' The seized marijuana was hanging on display behind the counter, as well as being stored under the counter," RaceTrac said in its filing. "In addition to synthetic marijuana and related invoices, the LPNET also seized boxes of an illegal product known as 'relaxation brownies,' packaged under the name 'Kush Cake.'"
RaceTrac terminated its lease agreement with Banks that day and demanded immediate possession of NUPE, but Banks "removed valuable inventory comprising part of the collateral in which plaintiff has a security interest ... For example and without limitation, defendants removed tobacco products and alcohol," according to RaceTrac’s suit.
The lawsuit also claims that Banks agreed to surrender the store on Oct. 9, only to change his mind and refuse to leave; that RaceTrac locked the pumps and ceased delivering gas to NUPE, damaging it; and that Banks sold gas from Oct. 4 to 6 and diverted the revenue instead of depositing it into a RaceTrac account before withdrawing the full $4,748.03 on Oct. 11.
RaceTrac is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty, according to the report. It has also initiated eviction proceedings and has an expedited hearing set for Nov. 21.