Businessman pleads guilty in marijuana bribery case involving former Michigan House speaker

John Dalaly, an Oakland County businessman caught in a bribery scheme involving former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson, pleaded guilty Friday in federal court.

Dalaly admitted to paying Johnson about $68,200 in the form of cash and gifts as he sought a license for his medical marijuana business in 2018. Johnson, who was House Speaker from 2001 through 2004, had been chair of the now-defunct board that granted licenses to medical marijuana businesses. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer disbanded the body in 2019.

Read more: Ex-Michigan House speaker, 3 others to plead guilty in marijuana bribery probe

Dalaly’s agreement stated the bribes included two private chartered flights from Michigan to Canada on a Learjet 35 and King Air 200 aircraft – by way of two companies he operated. One of the companies was a dispensary, while the other was established to be a “digital currency platform for marijuana transactions” in Michigan. Dalaly was charged with paying a bribe, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.

He is the first of four to formally enter a guilty plea in court. Johnson and two other Michigan lobbyists named in the probe, Tyler Brown and Brian Pierce, face arraignment in the coming week, and have signed agreements to plead guilty with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids, which led the multi-year probe.

In the heraing, Dalaly said Johnson “recommended that we use his wife, Jan Johnson, as a consultant,” and proceeded to pay her $4,000 a month. Johnson’s wife, according to the plea agreement Johnson signed, will not be prosecuted as a condition of his plea.

“Nobody knew how to do these medical marijuana applications. They were 65 pages and no one understood,” Raymond Cassar, an attorney representing Dalay, told reporters after the hearing. “So the whole idea was John needed to find somebody that can say, ‘okay, here’s how you fill out these forms.’ … He went to Rick Johnson, Johnson said ‘talk to my wife,’ and then she was obviously the conduit.”

Read more: Read filings describing bribery scheme involving ex-Michigan House speaker

Cassar said Dalaly had been acting as a “facilitator” to a Canadian marijuana investment company called PharmaCo, but didn’t have an ownership stake or employment with the business, according to Cassar, though he had incorporated their business in Michigan in 2016. In February 2022, a company called Red, White & Bloom reportedly acquired PharmaCo’s Michigan operations, which held 21 medical and recreational licenses and had roughly 180 employees at the time.

In the hearing Dalaly also said Johnson “asked for a loan, I gave him a loan,” and he provided meals and travel on chartered airplanes to Johnson. Cassar explained the Dalaly and Johnson flew privately to Canada to meet with “the Canadian investors to see what was gonna happen,” and said his client had been cooperating with federal investigators at least since last summer.

PharmaCo has not been publicly named in court filings and investigators haven’t disclosed whether any other individuals or businesses will be charged in the probe. Cassar

Federal magistrate judge Phillip Green asked Dalaly if the payments were used to influence the business application process and if their application was ultimately granted as a result of the bribes. Dalaly said yes.

In advance of sentencing Dalaly, who is 70, was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond after surrendering his passport and being ordered not to leave the state. He flashed a peace sign to reporters as he left the court.

Dalaly has no criminal record and told the court he has been taking medication for depression and anxiety. Dalaly was also ordered specifically not to consume the drug at the center of the probe, marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level.

Read more here: Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *