A former Republican Michigan Home speaker accepted greater than $100,000 in bribes from would-be hashish enterprise operators in change for assist acquiring licenses, federal prosecutors stated Thursday.
The corruption allegations unveiled Thursday in opposition to Rick Johnson, 70, and three others quantity to “the largest public corruption scandal within the state’s capital in 30 years,” in accordance with The Detroit Information.
Johnson served as speaker of the state Home from 2001 to 2004 and later chaired Michigan’s medical marijuana board from 2017 to 2019,
It is usually the newest instance of public corruption related to preferential licensing in authorized marijuana – and maybe probably the most high-profile case so far.
Based on U.S. Lawyer Mark Totten of the Western District of Michigan, Johnson, took “money and advantages from at the very least two firms” and later voted in favor of granting them licenses.
The businesses weren’t recognized, however one was operated by Michigan businessperson John Dawood Dalaly, in accordance with court docket filings.
Two of the businesses sought “varied working licenses … in what was a brand new and extremely profitable market,” prosecutors stated in court docket filings.
A 3rd was “exploring the licensing of a digital foreign money platform for medical marijuana monetary transactions,” in accordance with filings.
Johnson agreed to plead responsible to accepting a bribe, in accordance with a plea deal filed in federal court docket.
Dalaly and his co-defendants – lobbyists Brian Pierce and Vincent Brown, each of whom have been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery – have additionally pleaded responsible.
Johnson and Dalaly’s fees are punishable by as much as 10 years in federal jail and a $250,000 nice.
Brown and Pierce resist 5 years in jail and a $250,000 nice.
Along with accepting money, Johnson accepted flights on personal jets organized by Dalaly, in accordance with court docket paperwork.
In change for the bribes, Johnson “supplied useful private details about the anticipated guidelines and operation of the board and help with license purposes” to his co-defendants, in accordance with the filings.
Observers, together with the FBI, have lengthy warned that limited-license marijuana markets – the place the variety of MJ operations are capped, creating intense demand for what are profitable enterprise permits – is a “recipe for corruption.”
Main marijuana corruption circumstances embrace:
- A California union official being indicted for accepting bribes and interfering with organizing.
- Jasiel Correia, a former mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, being discovered responsible of “old-school pay-to-play political corruption” related to licensing in that metropolis.
- Richard Kerr, a former mayor of Adelanto, California, being indicted for bribery and wire fraud fees tied to marijuana enterprise licenses.
- California entrepreneur Helios Dayspring, pleading responsible to bribing officers in that state.
Former associates of ex-New York Metropolis mayor Rudy Giuliani went to jail for a straw-donor scheme through which they tried to use international cash to bribe officers in Nevada for marijuana enterprise licenses in that state that didn’t materialize.
Prices in opposition to Johnson have been anticipated for months, ever since a former legal professional sued him for unpaid authorized charges in an as-yet undisclosed “United States vs. Johnson” case that dated to 2020.
FBI brokers had seized Johnson’s telephone and financial institution information as a part of a probe, the Related Press reported in February.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer dissolved the Michigan Marihuana Board that Johnson chaired shortly after she took workplace in 2019.
U.S. Lawyer Totten appeared to counsel throughout a Thursday information convention extra allegations might be coming.
“I believe there could also be extra to follow-up about what, the truth is, the results of all this was,” he stated, in accordance with MLive.com.
“Actually, what I’ve described right this moment ought to give anyone motive to query the method.”
Chris Roberts will be reached at email@example.com.