An unemployed chef came up with a recipe to make some cash, baking marijuana-laced cookies and then using the Internet for promotion and his own version of the fast-food industry’s drive-thru window for distribution.
Sebastian P. Kujawa made a habit of leaving his Brinton Street house in North Buffalo with a fresh batch of cookies and crossing through Minnesota Linear Park, an old right of way, to the dead end of Nicholson Street and wait for customers to drive up and purchase their orders, Buffalo police said.
Neighbors watched these nocturnal transactions, a man leaping out of the bushes with a package in hand and darting up to cars that had just parked. It was an unnerving sight.
What the heck was going on?
So one of the neighbors called Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and asked if he would arrange for a stakeout.
“Neighbors were very concerned about the activity, so we acted on it immediately,” Derenda said.
Sure enough, narcotics unit investigators noticed the shadowy figure emerging from the bushes when a car pulled and the occupant took a package. Rather than make an arrest on the spot, Detective Sgt. Timothy M. Mulhern and Detectives Leo McGrath, Mark K. Locicero and Carmen D. Clark followed the driver of the car after he pulled away.
“Our suspect had slipped back into the bushes, and you’d need a machete to chop your way through the thicket,” Mulhern said. “We stopped the buyer at the end of Nicholson Street where it hits North Parker. We asked what he had in the package. He said, ‘They’re marijuana cookies.’ ”
When they asked how he had learned of “the baker in the bushes,” the buyer explained that he found the cookie baker on Craigslist.
When police looked, they found the advertisement: “Hey, if you are in the UB area and want some good bud or baked goods, look me up.”
The buyer informed the detectives that Kujawa had carried on an email exchange with him for two weeks.
“He said he was being vetted by Kujawa just to make sure he wasn’t dealing with the cops,” Mulhern said. “He did this with all his customers.”
With no way of locating Kujawa, who had vanished into the brush, the detectives asked the buyer if he would be willing to cooperate in exchange for leniency.
The buyer agreed.
“We had him text the cookie baker on his cellphone saying he wanted a half-dozen more cookies. Kujawa texted back, ‘You want some bud too?’
“The buyer texted back, ‘No bud.’
“Kujawa responded he only had five cookies left, but was willing to bake another batch, but the buyer would have to come the next night. We had the buyer say he would just take the five,” the detective sergeant said.
With an agreed meeting time of 20 minutes later, 10:45 p.m., detectives hid in bushes near the arranged meeting point.
Clark, using a decoy vehicle, drove up, and Kujawa jumped out of the bushes and tried to enter the front passenger seat to make the exchange.
But before that happened, McGrath and Locicero jumped out of the nearby bushes.
“The baker was stunned,” Mulhern said.
When questioned by police, Kujawa said he was unemployed from his job as a chef at well-known West Side restaurant and that a close relative had taught him how to bake cookies.
Unlike some chefs, who carefully guard their recipes, Kujawa, when asked, told detectives how much pot he placed in the cookies.
“He said three to five grams of pot in each cookie, a little more than a pinch, and he charged $10 per cookie,” Mulhern said.
Kujawa, 23, also gave permission to the detectives to search his home on the 100 block of Brinton, where they recovered 25 grams of marijuana, scales, a grinder, and packaging materials.
His baking goods, sugar, flour and eggs, were not confiscated.
When Kujawa asked if he was going to be arrested, police said yes.
Why? Kujawa persisted.
“Because,” Clark said, “that is the way the cookie crumbles.”
Kujawa was charged with criminal sale of marijuana and criminal possession of marijuana.