HALF MOON BAY (CBS SF/BCN) — The owner of a Half Moon Bay hemp farm is on trial this week for 33 counts of grand theft and other charges after he made his employees work for two months without pay, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

David Wayne Jenkins Jr., a 37-year-old Houston resident, was the owner of Castle Management — also known as Castillo Seed — a company that operated the hemp farm from January 2020 until it officially shut down this March, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

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Prosecutors said the company was unprofitable and ran out of money, but Jenkins had its employees work in December 2020 and January 2021 without pay while making promises that payments would come soon.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, he also withheld taxes and other withholdings from paychecks without notifying state employment officials and also lost worker’s compensation insurance in late December for failing to pay the company’s premiums, but continued to have employees work without insurance until the state’s Department of Industrial Relations shut the worksite down in January.

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San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe on Tuesday announced the charges against Jenkins and thanked Judith Guerrero, executive director of the local nonprofit Coastside Hope, as well as county Supervisor Don Horsley for bringing the case to the attention of his office.

Prosecutors said they eventually identified 33 victims in the case who lost a combined $138,000 in unpaid wages, of which Jenkins has paid about $107,000 in restitution. Jenkins earlier Tuesday made his initial appearance in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is out of custody on his own recognizance, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Jenkins’ attorneys were not immediately available to comment on the case, and he is set to have a preliminary hearing on the charges on Feb. 24.

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