Former Michigan House GOP lawmaker charged in marijuana licensing bribery scheme

Former Michigan House GOP lawmaker charged in marijuana licensing bribery scheme
The cheapest way to save the planet grows like a weed

Federal charges have been brought against former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson, along with three other suspects, in connection with a bribery scandal, prosecutors have revealed.

According to The Detroit News, the charges were handed down on Thursday, April 6 following a years-long investigation into the state’s operations for marijuana licensing.

Along with Johnson, the others charged include: Brian Pierce and Vincent Brown, both facing charges of conspiracy to commit bribery; and John Dawood Dalaly, charged with paying bribes.

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The news outlet reports: "Johnson, 70, a Republican from LeRoy, pocketed more than $100,000 from multiple people who were pursuing bribes in exchange for licenses to launch marijuana facilities at the dawn of Michigan's cannabis industry, federal officials said."

Speaking publicly Grand Rapids U.S. Attorney Mark Totten offered more details about the bribes that were uncovered during the investigative process.

"Certainly, what I have described today should give anybody reason to question the process and what effect all of these payments of money had on the chair of the board who was essentially serving as one of the key gatekeepers at the beginning of this fledgling industry," Totten said.

According to the report: "Johnson voted in support of a marijuana business during his tenure leading the board and then accepted a $75,000 loan from an investor with a stake in the deal, a Detroit News investigation revealed."

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"The loan violated the spirit of a state law aimed at preventing corruption, according to the legislator who sponsored the policy, and raised new concerns about secret financial arrangements at the dawn of Michigan's marijuana industry, which generated more than $2 billion in sales in 2022," the news outlet noted.

Totten also criticized Johnson's actions saying, “Johnson accepted these bribes corruptly … with the understanding that these bribes were offered to influence him or reward him for actions he might take."

Gregory Yatooma spokesman Mort Meisner also echoed similar sentiments about Johnson's behavior.

"MSY regrets providing the loan, as they did not know the issues surrounding Mr. Johnson, and unequivocally the loan was not made for any actions during Mr. Johnson's time on the board," Meisner said, referencing what he called “Johnson's consistent record of bad behavior.”

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