PORTLAND — The co-founder of an acclaimed raw food company faces a federal charge of marijuana trafficking.

Seth Leaf Pruzansky, 35, of Durham was arrested in Portland on Sept. 27 by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to court documents, Pruzansky was pulled over after DEA agents saw him loading two duffel bags into his vehicle.

Agent Joshua Guay said in an affidavit that the bags contained about 64 pounds of marijuana. A subsequent search of Pruzansky’s home led to the seizure of more than $50,000 in cash and eight cell phones.

Agents charged Pruzansky with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He appeared in U.S. District Court on Sept. 29 and was released on a property bond as the charge is pending.

If convicted, Pruzansky will face as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Richard Berne, Pruzansky’s lawyer, said he continues to gather information about the complaint.

“Seth Pruzansky is a longtime successful entrepreneur and businessman in our community,” Berne said Thursday afternoon. “This matter is in the early stages of investigation, so it is premature for me to comment at this point.”

Pruzansky and his younger brother, Davy Pruzansky of Bowdoinham, own Living Nutz, a company that sells organic snack foods. They began selling gourmet raw almonds in 2001 and quickly gained a reputation in the raw food community. They are known as The Almond Brothers.

Their line of products has expanded in the past decade. 2008, the brothers were selling to more than 600 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Living Nutz has been featured in The Portland Press Herald and other media outlets.

In January 2008, Living Nutz snacks were in the “swag bags” at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. One month later, in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, praised the company as an example of the state’s small business achievements.

Seth Leaf Pruzansky, who goes by the name Seth Leaf, has been a champion of the raw food movement in Maine. He also has been an advocate for the legalization of hemp production. The Pruzansky family owns Maine IntelliHemp, a company that makes lip balm and skin salve from hemp seed oil.

Industrial hemp, a variation of the cannabis plant, is often mistaken for marijuana, a variation of cannabis that contains the psychoactive ingredient THC. Although industrial hemp has no psychoactive properties, federal law prohibits its cultivation in the U.S., so companies like Maine IntelliHemp import hemp grown in Canada and other countries.

 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

[email protected]