Andy Defrancesco Quits Sol Global Top Job after Bad Press Weighs on Stock price: $SOL.cn $SOLCF

Andy Defrancesco has resigned from the cannabis company he helped build off large investments from Canadian mega million family the Serruyas. Sol Global Investments ($SOLCF) announced today Defrancesco is out as Chairman of the Board and Chief Investing Officer nearly a year after he took over the company.

The controversial cannabis investor has been grounded in the U.S. after his immigration lawyer advised that neither he nor his wife (ex-wife on paper) Catherine Defrancesco would likely not get back into the country if they left because on paper they are executives / owners of cannabis companies that own U.S. cannabis farms which are still not considered legal by federal law. Which is one of the reasons Defrancesco’s Canadian friends and business associates told this publication he is giving as a reason he is stepping down from Sol Global. But according to people who spoke with the Serruya family there has been pressure for a while now to leave because of the troublesome press Andy has received and the lawsuits against him. The hope is with Andy out Sol Global’s stock, which has been down over 30% in the last three months, will start to rebound and investors will believe its CEO, Brady Cobb, will run the company independent of Andy or the Serruya family influence.

Here is the problem with that. Andy is out but the company announced a new executive hire who is Aaron Serruya’s son in law. Adam Wilks is the husband of Aaron’s daughter Rachel Serruya Wilks. The Serruya’s have put Adam as the front man for One Plant which is the cannabis dispensary for Northern California based pot farm Northern Emeralds. Brady Cobb announced in May that Sol Global signed a letter of intent to buy Northern Emerald via stock in CannCure Investments in deal valued at $120 million. Northern Emerald is believed to have received investments from the Serruya family. Public filings for One Plant dispensary applications in California list Aaron Serruya a an owner. When the deal was announced Brady Cobb said they expected to close it by August 1st. The deal still has not closed because according to two people familiar with the transaction the Serruya’s were disappointed in the lack of upward movement in the Sol Global stock price.

CannCure is an investment vehicle set up as a Florida LLC in Catherine Defrancesco’s name months before 3 Boys Farm was bought, according to public corporation state filings. I previously reported on the undisclosed affiliates and possible conflicts of interest in the CannCure/3 Boys/Sol Global transaction involving Defrancesco. Because CannCure was a private llc when it bought 3 Boys Farm the purchase price and investors in CannCure was never disclosed. After my first story ran, Brady Cobb then listed a small ownership in CannCure and public filings show he replaced Catherine as the manager of the investment vehicle. Still Andy has refused to admit how much he invested in CannCure, through family and llcs he controls. Additionally, Andy said in a Reddit Q & A that CannCure had around 50 investors and Catherine was just a name used to set up the llc as one investor in the company. Andy also said he doesn’t have conflicts of interest in the transaction.

According to new deal documents and emails written by Andy Defrancesco obtained by this publication Andy was the lead person who raised funds for CannCure to buy 3 Boys Farm. On July 11 2018 Andy sent an email, titled CannCure, to Michael Serruya, Curtis Cusinato, Peter Simeon an attorney for Gowling, Brady Cobb, and Andy’s personal assistant Nikki Faukovic. The email tone is Andy scolding his team about getting investment closings done in CannCure.

Andy writes:

Guys – Mike is copied. Since when is our info so off and small closings so difficult. We are now racing to meet the deadline AND put time in between raises. Please advise ASAP!!! Thanks A

The email signs off as: Andy Defrancesco, Chief Investment Officer, andy@delavaco.com

Andy worked with Lisa-Marie Iannitelli to get deal docs signed at the Delavaco Group. She held the title Investor Relations and Business Development and was the person used to ensure funds were wired to Toronto-based Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce under the account name Stikeman Elliott LLP in Trust, according to documents obtained by this publication. Andy’s brother-in-law Curtis Cusinato was a senior partner at big law Stikeman Elliott at the time and made co-managing partner of the Toronto office in October 2018 while Sol Global was announcing closing on the deal to buy CannCure/3Boys.

The deal documents recently obtained by this publication show Michael Serruya ended up making a $22 million investment in privately owned CannCure in what Defrancesco called the “Canncure $1 round”. Serruya also made invests in members of his family name. The Serruya investment is believed to be the largest investment in CannCure giving Serruya considerable influence and control.

Before Brady Cobb was annotated CEO of Sol Global in October 2018 he also worked as the lawyer on the deal for CannCure to buy 3 Boys Farm. Bill Monroe, the former operations manger for the farm told this publication Brady was regularly seen on the farm in the summer of 2018 encouraging staff to stay once the farm was bought and promising six figure contracts. Promises Monroe said were never fulfilled. According to an email obtained by this publication, Brady Cobb was working with Florida political power house attorney and Liberty Health Science board member, William Pfeiffer, to close the 3 boys deal for CannCure. Attorney Pfeiffer was representing Ron Clapper’s interest in 3 Boys. As I have previously reported Clapper was an owner in 3 Boys along with Robert Tornello and other Florida businessmen who profited from the sale of 3 Boys to CannCure. When Cobb emailed attorney Pfeiffer an executed NDA in an email titled ‘LOI 3 Boys Farm’ and said he was standing by to review the document the email was cc’d to Andy Defrancesco and Andy’s personal assistant Nikki Faukovic. Andy Defrancesco was not Chairman and CIO of Sol Global at the time nor did his name appear on any public CannCure corporate filings nor was he an original investor in 3 Boys Farm. Why Brady Cobb was including Andy in an email with private deal transaction documents attached leaves to question how far back both men were working together in an asset purchase that would be eventually bought by the public cannabis company they ran – Sol Global Investments – for over $100 million in equity and cash.

Brady Cobb was informed today I have copies of his emails and responded he was ‘too busy to comment’.

Florida-based 3 Boys Farm is Sol Global’s only fully owned cannabis farm that is currently selling medical marijuana flower via delivery only. The farm just saw their Chief Scientific Officer, Greg Gerdeman, quit for another cannabis company last month. Gerdeman was instrumental in writing the application to secure the licence to cultivate, produce, and distribute medical marijuana and touted by the farm as a leader in the field that would help them produce high quality cannabis products with medical benefits. (3 boys farms still doesn’t sell an oil product and according to a person who worked at the farm used rudimentary extraction to create one product to show regulators to pass their dispensing licences this Spring on the last day of their deadline.)

Cobb said in an interview to this publication two weeks ago that he is frustrated with the characterization that he is ‘Andy’s sidekick’ and spent the first ten minutes of the interview explaining how he is his own man and makes his own decisions. I asked again today if he has ever asked for approval from large investors on hiring decisions. Cobb said No and then added he has ask them for “thoughts” on potential hires. With the announcement of Serruya family member Adam Wilkes being added as Sol Global COO today ,and Andy Defrancesco out, it’s unclear who is truly running the company.

In a text exchange between Brady Cobb and Michael Serruya (with Andy’s phone number included in the group text) obtained by this publication Cobb says:

“Mike, Slept on what we talked about and here are my thoughts. I agree with you. And I think we should hire as follows – Jeff Chan CFO, Victor COO and Michael Bondurant CEO. Mike is a trusted friend and my right hand guy with 3 Boys. He knows the space and has the resume. He has been director of opps at 3 Boys and Verano won’t be happy to loose him but I’ve reached my threshold in making Verano happy. I go on the board (when I can) with Aaron’s guy Beedles and the Judge and we are in business.
I am telling you this is the way and Mike (Bondurant) is and will be YOUR guy. Andy Knows him. He can start tomorrow. “

The text chain didn’t make clear what company Brady was asking Michael Serruya to staff. But it appears to show how executives are put in place by this team to be ‘Mike’s guys’. The names in the above text are tied to Liberty Healthy Science though, which could show further collusion between Brady, Andy Michael Serruya in other companies.

According to people familiar with the family the Serruya’s have amassed a fortune of at least half a billion. Michael Serruya is in charge of running the family money and goes by Mike with his family and friends.

Sol Global’s year end financials said the company plans to pay the investors in CannCure $80 million if it can’t sell 3 Boys Farm within two years.

Editor’s note: To protect the sources on the emails, text and documents obtained I chose not to publish the documents. They have been reviewed to ensure they are from the people mentioned in the reporting. This is the first part in a series of stories to come showing possible securities violations and criminal misconduct which will be sourced from Team Defrancesco’s own communication.

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Comments

  1. Keep up the good digging!
    I have burned badly by the likes of all crooks named above. Have you ever found a connection between Andy/serruya and the money pumped into Isodiol both thru Scythian/delevaco and lhs /serruya?
    Isodiol has been an investor nightmare and no one rights about it. Would love to see a story!!

  2. Business Prof says

    Great work. One thing your research shows is how weak our regulatory system is when it comes to protecting retail investors. Your work, the QCM report, all of this stuff makes the Brinks armored car guys look like amateurs in both scale–100s of million of dollars–and the brazen, baldfaced brashness of it all.

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