Comic-Con ‘Super Yacht’ Owners Accuse Marijuana Mogul of Slander, Fraud

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The 125-foot tremendous yacht Liquidity was rented by BudTrader.com for the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con. After two days, it was faraway from Fifth Avenue Landing marina. Photo by way of BudTrader.com

Nine months after a marijuana mogul’s rented “super yacht” vanished from a marina throughout Comic-Con, courtroom filings reveal who took it — and why.

Lake Rickolt, a longtime San Diego boat captain, is being sued over rental of yacht Liquidity during Comic-Con.
Lake Rickolt, a longtime San Diego boat captain, is being sued over rental of yacht Liquidity throughout Comic-Con. Photo by way of Facebook

Capt. Lake Rickolt and his spouse, Gemma, have been sued in January by BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin over removing of the social gathering boat and monetary losses.

But now the Rickolts say in a countersuit that the dock grasp of Fifth Avenue Landing ordered the boat out by 10 a.m. July 22, 2017 — the Saturday of the San Diego Convention Center mega-event.

According to the countersuit, filed April 26 in San Diego Superior Court, McLaughlin and his staff violated marina guidelines on alcohol, medicine and events.

“Moreover, [the Rickolts] and the yacht crew felt threatened for their safety and the safety of the yacht,” the 125-foot Liquidity, which had a three-day rental value of $42,250.

Attorneys Brandon Saxon and Peter “PJ” Lucca Jr. are suing McLaughlin on behalf of the Rickolts, who did enterprise as Sol Luna Expeditions and San Diego Marine Services.

Rickolts' countersuit against Brad McLaughlin and BudTrader.com.
Rickolts’ countersuit towards Brad McLaughlin and BudTrader.com. (PDF)

McLaughlin and the employees of BudTrader — referred to as the “Craigslist of weed” — are accused of defamation, slander, fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and inflicting extreme emotional misery.

The Rickolts haven’t put a price ticket on their accidents, however are looking for particular and punitive damages together with lawyer and courtroom prices. A jury trial is demanded.

McLaughlin — who lives in Los Angeles County however does enterprise from an Encinitas workplace — hasn’t responded formally to the countersuit, however his legal professionals aren’t taking it calmly.

“The entire cross-complaint is merit-less and not supported by any facts,” attorneys Matthew Blair and Oscar Ramirez stated final week by way of e mail. “We will be making a motion to dismiss it and then proceed with filing another lawsuit for malicious prosecution.”

The 15-page countersuit — filed the identical day that the Rickolts responded to the unique January grievance — makes a spread of claims:

  • That McLaughlin lied at first to the Rickolts about having a sales space at Comic-Con.
  • That McLaughlin “intentionally and wrongfully made slanderous and disparaging comments to various individuals, media outlets, reporters, editors, and/or trade magazines … as an intentional publicity stunt … with the purpose of specifically causing damage” to the Rickolts.
  • And that the Rickolts suffered extreme emotional misery.

Specifically, the countersuit says Gemma Rickolt boarded the yacht about four:38 p.m. July 20 and noticed McLaughlin “intoxicated as he seemed overly sweaty; he struggled to make eye contact and seemed on edge.”

Lake and Gemma Rickolt's answer to original lawsuit by BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin. (
Lake and Gemma Rickolt’s reply to unique lawsuit by BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin. (PDF)

She observed marijuana everywhere in the gallery, plus THC-infused edibles and marijuana cookies “strewn throughout the yacht, all in violation of federal and state law regarding including state open container laws regarding marijuana on vessels,” the go well with says.

When Gemma walked into the galley, the go well with continued, a BudTrader affiliate named Paul Vara “aggressively confronted her and forcefully said ‘Who the f— are you?!’ His aggressive tone and close proximity to her person was intimidating and caused serious personal injury to [her].”

The countersuit additionally alleges that the BudTrader staff gave out free marijuana joints to the general public and passers-by and in addition pulled individuals off the boardwalk and introduced them onto the yacht to “smoke marijuana and ingest THC edibles.”

About 7 p.m. that Thursday, an “extremely intoxicated” BudTrader affiliate began to throw friends’ footwear into the water, the go well with says, alleging the unnamed individual was a radio host from Los Angeles who had interviewed McLaughlin.

Then Vara “ran off the yacht and aggressively grabbed the unidentified radio host by the throat and started choking him,” the go well with says. “Vara then threw the radio host’s hat in the water while shouting obscenities for everyone to hear on the dock and on the adjacent boardwalk.”

McLaughlin denies all accusations and responded to a collection of questions (see under).

The Rickolts additionally assert the presence of Harbor Police on the marina that opening night time of Comic-Con.

“At or around 6:00 p.m. on July 20, 2017, San Diego Harbor Police were called by the marina security,” the go well with says. “The Harbor Police approached the yacht and requested Captain RICKOLT and MCLAUGHLIN to inform [McLaughlin] and [his] visitors to cease all marijuana smoking as a result of the marijuana smoke and scent was seen and smelled on the boardwalk adjoining to Fifth Avenue Landing the place youngsters have been current and to cease passing out free marijuana joints. …

“Thereafter, San Diego Harbor Police returned to Fifth Avenue Landing after the unidentified radio host was assaulted by [Vara] and warned [the BudTrader team] to tone down their conduct.”

Last July, a Port District spokeswoman advised Times of San Diego: “Harbor Police did not receive any calls or complaints regarding The Liquidity [or] have any interaction with the vessel.”

On Wednesday, a Harbor Patrol spokesman stated he appeared by means of a log of “calls for service” from four to 7 p.m. that day.

“I didn’t find anything at that time,” stated the spokesman, Sgt. Victor Banuelos.

But he famous an eight:55 p.m. name from a safety guard at 600 Convention Way — the marina handle — a few bodily battle in progress.

“Boat unit didn’t get there until 9:13,” Banuelos stated in a telephone interview. “And when they got there, they were told that one party had left the area, and that the other one did not want to press any charges. … There was no action taken.”

Banuelos stated the log doesn’t point out which vessel may need been concerned within the name for service.

Fifth Avenue Landing didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

On Wednesday, Rickolts lawyer Lucca stated: “The Harbor Police are all strewn throughout the harbor. … The timing of the call is … neither here nor there. Or maybe it wasn’t even a call. I don’t know. I don’t have those documents before me.”

In a telephone interview, Lucca stated he couldn’t touch upon any specifics of the countersuit, “but … we look forward to vindicating our client. We look forward to proving our claims in the cross-complaint.”

He had no touch upon the opposing authorized group’s promised motion over malicious prosecution.

But McLaughlin responded to particular claims within the countersuit and shared e-mail, textual content messages and photographs he says again him up.

McLaughlin stated by way of e mail: “We did nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide and all I want is the truth as to why we were ejected. … If people were being threatened and choked like our yacht was Wrestlemania, wouldn’t the police have been called?”

TIMES OF SAN DIEGO: Did you ever inform anybody you had a sales space at Comic-Con?

McLAUGHLIN: No, I didn't. The purpose we rented the yacht was as a result of we needed a presence at Comic-Con. If I had a sales space, I might have simply manned our sales space and I wouldn’t have rented an excellent yacht.

Were you intoxicated if you met with Gemma Rickolt on July 20?

No, I wasn’t. I didn't drink throughout our occasion and never that it issues however I've not had a sip of alcohol in 10 years. I choose cannabis.

Brad McLaughlin says this photo depicts Fifth Avenue Landing marina manager Neil Wilson kissing a BudTrader.com model during 2017 Comic-Con.
Brad McLaughlin says this photograph depicts Fifth Avenue Landing marina supervisor Neil Wilson kissing a BudTrader.com mannequin throughout 2017 Comic-Con. Photo by way of Brad McLaughlin

Did Paul Vara ask Gemma: “Who the f— are you?”

Not to my information, and I really feel like that's one thing I might have been informed instantly. She tried to board the yacht and our employees and safety inquired to who she was, why she didn’t have a visitor move to our occasion and the way she gained entry to our yacht if she didn’t undergo the primary gate at Fifth Avenue Landing.

I do recall she recommended our safety employees for being on prime of who was coming aboard the yacht. Apparently she had a crew member sail her over in a dinghy and that’s how she received entry with out going via the primary gate. The purpose she got here was we had a pre-arranged settlement that she can be allowed to attend the occasion. She needed to mingle with celebrities and attempt to get new shoppers to constitution yachts from her and her husband.

Did you or different BudTrader staffers hand out marijuana joints or THC ingestibles aboard the yacht?

To my information, my employees didn't present marijuana or edibles to friends. However many of our visitors personal marijuana manufacturers and/or are marijuana sufferers (and which a medicating tent was offered by Fifth Avenue Landing) and each member of my staff is prepared to acknowledge they're marijuana sufferers.

BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin poses in front of lone banner displayed on the Liquidity yacht at Comic-Con
BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin poses in entrance of lone banner displayed on the Liquidity yacht at Comic-Con.Photo by Adam Bakkendahl

I’d like so as to add that just one incident was reported of a visitor trying to smoke on the outside third degree of the yacht on the night on Day 2. The captain requested the visitor to not smoke on the yacht and the visitor complied. Captain Lake referred to it as “not a big deal” in his report back to me later that night.

​Did Paul Vara begin to choke a radio host? Who was the radio host?

A visitor from the TBS yacht claimed to have a podcast and requested if he might get a media move and interview me on the entrance of the boat. I agreed and I gave him a tour of the yacht and did a 15-minute radio interview with him.

Diane Bell from The San Diego Union-Tribune interviewed me next… I did another interview with a cannabis information group.

Once I concluded my interviews, I had discovered from safety that the radio/podcast host had started to drink excessively and act aggressively. He tried to steal a visitor’s belongings and that’s when safety ejected him and walked him out of Fifth Avenue Landing’s entrance gate.

We reported the incident to the person in cost of the TBS boat and knowledgeable them that one of [their] friends had acted inappropriately. We additionally reported it to Samuel Hamilton, head of Amazon safety on the IMDB boat, Fifth Avenue Landing employees and safety. I don’t consider Paul was even concerned and solely our employed safety employees was concerned.

Did you verbally assault a Fifth Avenue Landing safety guard?

No, I didn't.

On Friday night time, “Arturo” — an 18-year-old safety guard employed by Fifth Avenue Landing — knowledgeable me that Neil [Wilson] the supervisor … had knowledgeable him that if our friends, my employees or our yacht do one factor fallacious he had the facility to close us down.

I assured him he had nothing to fret about and that so long as he was truthful with us we wouldn’t have any points. He started to harass our visitors, my employees and the Liquidity yacht virtually instantly.

He proceeded to shine his flashlight in visitors’ faces. He tried to get me to eject a ladies in a wheelchair who occurred to be close to our yacht on the harbor. I refused and informed him it’s not my duty to eject individuals who have been on the harbor and that I used to be solely liable for my visitors.

The last straw was when he tried to take management of our visitor listing and the clipboard that was hooked up. He started to shout “Everyone get your IDs out and if your name isn’t on the guest list, YOU’RE OUT OF HERE!”

He tried to seize our visitor listing off the yacht ledge on the similar time actor Eric Roberts was trying to board our yacht and our complete visitor record and clipboard went into the water.

My company counsel was aboard and witnessed the incident. He suggested me to tell younger Arturo that this was a personal occasion and that his conduct was unacceptable and that if he continued to disrupt our occasion I might search damages and authorized motion towards him personally and the safety firm that staff him.

Arturo knowledgeable me he was gong to name Neil and have me shut down and kicked out. At the top of the night time round midnight, Arturo requested to talk to me and he apologized.

He admitted he had handled me and my visitors unfairly and he believed Neil and Capt. Lake have been making an attempt to “railroad” me into being ejected. He promised me that he would give me a glowing evaluation with Neil in his “official report” and even gave me his cellphone quantity (which I nonetheless have) and advised me to name him if I wanted something.

Anything else readers ought to know concerning the case or countersuit?

There is a lot extra your readers have to know.

1. The identify of the yacht we rented was the Liquidity. The identify was modified weeks earlier than our occasion. There is not any report of a yacht referred to as the Liquidity and no info on the identify earlier than.

2. I used to be advised by Liquidity employees that the 300-foot, Three-story yacht that was rented by Amazon/IMDB was additionally owned by the identical “yacht owners” because the Liquidity. The Liquidity employees additional provided that the strain to have us ejected had come from Amazon/IMDB and TBS.

Three. Gemma had initially quoted me a worth of $1,500 for the slip charge, however Neil the supervisor … stated the payment was $Three,000 and insisted I pay him money, which I did. According to Fifth Avenue Landing employees, no official report exists of us renting the slip throughout Comic-Con weekend.

Comic-Con ‘Super Yacht’ Owners Accuse Marijuana Mogul of Slander, Fraud was final modified: May 16th, 2018 by Ken Stone

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