Chipotle Mexican Grill has another major public relations issue on its hands, and it has nothing to do with food safety.
The company, which is gearing up for the launch of a rewards program after a prolonged sales slump, has placed Chief Creative and Development Officer Mark Crumpacker on administrative leave as it waits to hear about alleged cocaine possession charges.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the indictment of three individuals Thursday on charges of selling more than $75,000 worth of cocaine. An indictment report listed a number of buyers charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, but that indictment did not include Mr. Crumpacker by name on Thursday. A number of names on the court documents provided by the
"At the moment, we know very little about these charges," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email. "Due to the nature of the situation, Mark has been placed on administrative leave."
The situation comes as Mr. Crumpacker has been one of the main executives spearheading the company's comeback efforts following food safety scandals that began surfacing in 2015. He has been overseeing work including Chipotle's biggest marketing campaign to date and promotions such as buy one, get one free offers. On Monday, Mr. Crumpacker was quoted in a press release about the introduction of Chiptopia, the company's new summer loyalty program that begins Friday.
Mr. Crumpacker's responsibilities have been assigned to other senior managers in his absence, Mr. Arnold said.
Mr. Crumpacker was named Chipotle's chief marketing officer in January 2009, became chief development officer in October 2013 and took on the role of chief creative and development officer in March 2015.