BMMR Rick Johnson and lobbyists to enter pleas in MI medical cannabis licensing bribery probe

Rick Johnson, Lobbyists To Enter Plea To Bribery In Marijuana Probe — 10:32 a.m.

Former Michigan medical marijuana board chair Rick JOHNSON, two lobbyists and a fourth individual have signed plea agreements admitting to their role in a bribery scheme involving the state’s marijuana licensing operations.

U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said Johnson, the former House Speaker, accepted more than $100,000 in bribes while serving as chair of the medical marijuana licensing board, including from companies who sought licenses and from their lobbyists.

“To be clear, Johnson accepted these bribes illegally, which is to say he accepted them with the understanding that these bribes were offered to influence him or to reward him for actions that he might take,” Totten said today at a press conference on the lawn of the Charles E. Chamberlin Federal Building at the corner of Townsend and Allegan streets.

“Public corruption is a poison to any democracy,” he added. “Those who wield the power of the state have a sacred responsibility to serve the people they represent. And when a government official takes a bribe they violate that solemn duty.”

Also entering a plea agreement to conspiracy to commit bribery John Dawood Dalaly and registered lobbyists Brian Dennis Pierce, 45, of Midland, and Vincent Tyler Brown, 32, of Royal Oak.

Totten said whether the defendants will serve prison time is not yet known, but the maximum Dalaly, Pierce and Brown face is up to 10 years in prison.

The investigation, which began as early as December 2017, is ongoing. It has included the execution of multiple search warrants and reviewing “a lot of digital evidence,” Totten said, declining to elaborate.

Johnson served as chair of the Michigan medical marijuana licensing board from May 2017 through April 2019

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