Chipotle Mexican Grill has placed chief marketing and development officer Mark Crumpacker on administrative leave following an indictment by Manhattan prosecutors involving the executive and a cocaine drug ring.
Crumpacker, who was named Chipotle’s first CMO in 2009, was one of 18 alleged cocaine buyers indicted, according to various media reports. He is expected to be arraigned in the coming days, according to reports.
Chipotle communications director Chris Arnold said via email that the company knows "very little" about the charges against Crumpacker.
The decision was made to place Crumpacker on administrative leave in order to "remain focused on the operation of our business, and to allow [him] to focus on these personal matters," Arnold added.
Crumpacker’s responsibilities have been assigned to other senior managers in his absence.
Crumpacker’s role includes oversight of the company’s marketing functions including advertising, design, events, PR, social media and research. He took on the added title of chief development officer in 2013, leading the company’s real estate, design, construction and facilities functions worldwide, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He is also the president of the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, a charitable organization established by Chipotle in 2011 as a way of "promoting a more sustainable, healthful and equitable food future," according to his LinkedIn profile.
Crumpacker was featured last year in PRWeek’s list of the top 40 marketing innovators to watch.
His indictment was made public one day before the launch of Chipotle’s customer loyalty program, Chiptopia Summer Rewards. The program is the chain’s latest attempt to win back customers scared off by e. coli and other food-safety issues that have troubled the chain since late last year. The Wall Street Journal noted on Friday that Crumpacker’s indictment could have a further "damping effect" on the chain.
Chipotle reported its first quarterly loss since it went public in the first quarter of 2016, with same-store sales down 30% from the prior year and a net loss of $26.4 million.
This article first appeared on prweek.com.