Indiana Men Face Legal Consequences in Michigan for Concealed Firearms During Cannabis Purchase

Published 2 days ago Legal & Crime
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In a recent case that underscores the legal challenges of navigating differing state laws, two South Bend residents, a father and son, were sentenced in Berrien County Trial Court for attempting to carry concealed firearms without proper licensing while in Michigan to purchase cannabis.

Incident Overview

The case stems from an incident on January 5th in Bertrand Township, Michigan, when a vehicle carrying Jason Robert Miltroka, 47, and his son Gino Anthony Miltroka, 20, was stopped by police. Both men had traveled from Indiana to Michigan with the intention of purchasing cannabis, a substance that remains illegal in their home state.

Cannabis Purchase and Legal Implications

Michigan, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2018, attracts many out-of-state visitors who come to legally purchase cannabis products. Jason and Gino Miltroka were among those visitors, seeking to take advantage of Michigan's more permissive cannabis laws. However, their plan was complicated by their failure to understand Michigan's strict regulations on carrying concealed firearms.

Jason Robert Miltroka's Sentencing

Jason Miltroka was sentenced to 10 days in jail, credited for two days already served, and ordered to pay $258 in fines and costs. His firearm was also forfeited. This marks his first felony conviction, although he has prior convictions related to drinking and driving. Defense attorney Scott Graham highlighted Miltroka's stable residence and employment, which he hopes to maintain despite his conviction.

During court proceedings, Miltroka admitted that he did not realize the differences in firearm laws between Indiana and Michigan, though he was aware of the disparity in cannabis laws. Judge Jennifer Smith acknowledged his desire to keep his job but stressed the importance of understanding the responsibilities associated with carrying a weapon. She noted that Miltroka knowingly crossed state lines to purchase cannabis, consumed alcohol in the vehicle, and used both alcohol and cannabis while on bond, pointing to a pattern of poor decision-making.

Gino Anthony Miltroka's Sentencing

Gino Miltroka received a similar sentence a week after his father: 10 days in jail with two days credited, $258 in fines and costs, and the forfeiture of his firearm. His defense attorney, Daniel French, described the incident as a series of bad choices stemming from a lack of understanding of state laws. Gino Miltroka admitted his failure to research the legal requirements for carrying a firearm in Michigan.

Judge Smith reiterated the points made during Jason Miltroka's sentencing, emphasizing the responsibility to understand and comply with state laws when carrying a firearm. She pointed out that Gino was driving with a suspended license, was not fully truthful with officers, and violated bond conditions by using cannabis.

Legal Implications and Considerations

This case highlights the complexities and potential pitfalls of differing state laws regarding firearms and cannabis. Indiana's strict cannabis prohibition contrasts sharply with Michigan's legalized market, leading to legal complications for residents crossing state lines. The convictions of Jason and Gino Miltroka underscore the importance of understanding and adhering to the legal requirements of any state one enters, particularly regarding firearms and controlled substances.

As more states move towards legalizing cannabis, the need for clear communication and education about the accompanying legal responsibilities becomes increasingly crucial. Visitors to states with legal cannabis must be aware of and comply with all state laws to avoid similar legal issues.


Man Sentenced for Theft of Vape Pens, Guns, and Cannabis Products

Published 4 days ago Legal & Crime
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A man involved in the theft of thousands of vape pens, firearms, and cannabis products received a minimum prison sentence of 18 months this week.

Kevin H. Nguyen was arrested last year and subsequently confessed to selling stolen goods and purchasing stolen firearms, as indicated by court documents.

Authorities discovered the stolen items at Nguyen's residence in a mobile home park in Kent County's Gaines Township. The items included over 2,000 Breeze vape pens and hundreds of cannabis products.

Nguyen admitted to detectives from the Kent County Sheriff's Office that he knew the merchandise he was selling was stolen, court records show.

He faced several felony charges, including three weapons offenses and receiving and concealing stolen property. He pleaded guilty to three charges, leading to the dismissal of the others.

A judge in Kent County sentenced Nguyen to a prison term ranging from 1.5 to 5 years. He is currently held in the Kent County jail, awaiting transfer to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Following his arrest in October, Nguyen told detectives that he was aware the items were stolen from dispensaries because the sellers were incarcerated, according to court documents.

During the search, detectives seized eight handguns, two of which were reported stolen. One handgun had a switch attached, converting it into a machine gun. Court documents also reveal that three additional switches were found during the search.

Nguyen acknowledged to detectives that he was aware the firearms were stolen when he purchased them.



Comprehensive Overview of CRA's June 2024 Disciplinary Actions

Published 1 week ago Legal & Crime
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The Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) has published its June 2024 Disciplinary Action Report, detailing administrative formal complaints and disciplinary actions taken against various adult-use and medical cannabis licensees. This report highlights the CRA's ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with state regulations and maintain the integrity of Michigan's cannabis industry.

The disciplinary actions this month involve a range of issues, from METRC non-compliance to failures in reporting material changes and security deficiencies. The following is a summary of the actions taken:

Harrison Township:

  • SSQ Industries, LLC dba Tango Jack (License: GR-C-000695, AU-G-C-000559) was cited for failing to report material changes related to their physical location and operations.

River Rouge:

  • RR Process, LLC (License: PR-000253) faced action for failure to report material changes in physical location and operations.
  • RR Process, LLC (License: AU-P-000267) was also cited for AFS non-compliance.
  • Royal Highness, LLC dba Herbology Cannabis Co. (License: AU-R-000126) received a citation for METRC non-compliance.

Jackson:

  • MLKJ Ventures, LLC dba Mood Cannabis (License: AU-R-000410, PC-000562) was penalized for failing to report material changes, along with surveillance and security violations.

Madison Heights:

  • GS Ashley, LLC dba Holistic Industries (License: AU-G-C-000604) faced penalties for METRC non-compliance and issues related to sampling and testing.

Detroit:

  • 13775 Buena Vista LLC dba Empire Brands (License: GR-C-000022, AU-G-C-000977) received citations for general operational issues, METRC non-compliance, and non-compliant transfers between cannabis businesses.

Hanover:

  • K Farm Organics, LLC (License: GR-A-000148, AU-G-C-001315) was cited for surveillance and security deficiencies.

Wayne:

  • Wayne Wellness, Inc dba Wayne Releaf (License: AU-R-000291, PC-000449) was penalized for failing to report material changes related to physical location and operations.

Bangor:

  • Dragonfly Kitchen II, Inc (License: AU-P-000131) faced issues with packaging and advertising compliance.

Warren:

  • Oasis Wellness Center of Lansing, LLC (License: AU-G-C-000968) was cited for failing to report material changes and METRC non-compliance.
  • Kassab Investments, LLC dba Packwoods Distribution (License: PR-000161) received a citation for METRC non-compliance.
  • PDS Ventures, LLC (License: AU-P-000288, AU-G-C-001029) faced penalties for AFS non-compliance.

Caro:

  • Emerald Thumb, LLC dba Wellbudds (License: AU-G-B-000204, GR-A-000175) was cited for AFS non-compliance.

Au Gres:

  • Pure Green, LLC dba Glorious Cannabis Company (License: GR-C-000181, GR-C-000193, GR-C-000204, GR-C-000256, GR-C-000292, GR-C-000294, PR-000077) faced AFS non-compliance citations.
  • Hello Farms Licensing MI, LLC (License: GR-C-000519, GR-C-000514, GR-C-000521, GR-C-000520) was penalized for failing to report material changes in their legal entity.

Lapeer:

  • Atwater Management, LLC dba Culture Complex (License: PR-000212, AU-P-000262) received citations for failing to report material changes in their legal entity.

Constantine:

  • Constantine Products, LLC dba The Dude Abides Provisioning Center (License: PC-000560) faced multiple citations including METRC non-compliance, non-compliant waste disposal, and surveillance/security issues.

Linwood:

  • Uncle Buds Provisioning Center, LLC (License: PC-000150) was penalized for METRC non-compliance.

Tekonsha:

  • Old 27 Buds Etc., LLC (License: GR-C-000863, GR-C-000829) received citations for METRC non-compliance.

Chesaning:

  • CLC 94, LLC (License: GR-C-000816) was cited for METRC non-compliance.

Muskegon:

  • Root Weaver, LLC (License: GR-C-000541) received multiple citations for METRC non-compliance.

Jackson, Bay City, Muskegon, Big Rapids, Lowell:

  • Windsor Township OG, LLC (License: GR-C-000296, GR-C-000298, GR-C-000299, GR-C-000301, PR-000080, PC-000515, PC-000573, PC-000627) faced AFS non-compliance citations.
  • Windsor Township OG, LLC (License: AU-G-C-000124, AU-G-C-000125, AU-G-C-000126, AU-P-000110, AU-R-000315, AU-R-000372, AU-R-000442, AU-R-000544) was also penalized for AFS non-compliance.

Ferndale:

  • Cafiero Family Ventures, LLC dba King of Budz Ferndale (License: AU-R-000990) received citations for general operational issues.

Saginaw:

  • Makana Fields, LLC dba Primo Provisioning - Saginaw (License: AU-R-000972) was cited for METRC non-compliance.

Traverse City:

  • Leoni Wellness, LLC dba Puff TC (License: AU-R-000952) faced penalties for non-compliant sales.

Lansing:

  • Gram Slam Holdings, LLC (License: AU-R-000658) received citations for non-compliant sales.

Center Line:

  • BRT Capital 1, LLC dba Joyology of Center Line (License: AU-R-000421) faced multiple citations for non-compliant sales, packaging and advertising issues, and surveillance/security violations.

Paw Paw:

  • Great Lakes Holistics, LLC (License: AU-R-000253) was cited for packaging and advertising compliance issues.

Ann Arbor:

  • Pure Roots LLC (License: AU-R-000229) received penalties for non-compliant sales.

Cheboygan:

  • 600 Riggs OpCo, LLC dba LaHaze Cannabis Company (License: AU-P-000367) faced issues with sampling and testing compliance.

Orion Charter Township:

  • Ferndale Maize LLC (License: AU-P-000253) received citations for general operational issues, METRC non-compliance, and non-compliant sales.

Marshall:

  • EPS I LLC (License: AU-P-000143) was penalized for failing to report material changes related to their physical location and operations.

Morenci:

  • 325HTD Growers, LLC dba Amber Waves Cannabis Co. (License: AU-G-C-001093, AU-G-C-000950) received multiple citations including failure to report material changes, general operational issues, METRC non-compliance, and non-compliant waste disposal.

Fennville:

  • 236 Culver, LLC (License: AU-G-C-000322, AU-G-C-000281) faced penalties for METRC non-compliance.

For more detailed information on the specific disciplinary actions and to access the full report, please visit the CRA's public-facing database.


Federal Lawsuit Filed Against 305 Farms for Unpaid Employee Wages

Published 2 weeks ago Legal & Crime
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Fourteen former employees of 305 Farms have initiated a federal lawsuit against the West Michigan cannabis company, alleging that they were not paid thousands of dollars in wages and that deductions for benefits were taken without being provided.

Robert Lusk, the attorney representing the former employees, filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. He stated, "Apparently, they ran out of money and thought it was appropriate to withhold wages until they got themselves reorganized."

Jan Verleur, a partner in The Verleur Group, a Miami-based venture capital firm controlling 305 Brands, acknowledged that the company fell behind on employee payments following a "catastrophic harvest failure." This failure was reportedly due to a defective HVAC system at their cultivation facility in Lawrence, located about 30 miles west of Kalamazoo. Verleur emphasized that the company is collaborating with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth to resolve the unpaid wages issue and anticipates making the final $35,000 in payments later this month.

"Our intention is to ensure that anyone who was employed with us is compensated," Verleur stated.

The state Department of Labor and Economic Growth did not respond to requests for information regarding the case.

Lusk noted that the deadline for his clients to receive their wages had already passed.

305 Farms began operations in March 2022, with plans to become Michigan's largest single-site indoor cannabis cultivation campus, licensed to grow up to 80,000 plants. However, General Manager D.J. Howley explained that the company was misled about the HVAC system specifications, leading to significant operational issues.

According to Howley, the company spent much of the past year diagnosing and attempting to rectify the HVAC problems. Verleur reported a loss of $1.7 million in potential revenue between November and February, contributing to a significant staff reduction.

In February, the company held several meetings to inform employees about the financial difficulties. Jacqueline Morgan, a security guard, chose to stay despite the delayed payments because she believed in the company's future. "We were all given the opportunity to seek other employment or take a leave of absence. Once everything was resolved, we could return without any issues, at the same pay and benefits," Morgan said.

Verleur noted that the company's financial situation has improved in recent months. "We've been paying down debts and making corrections. We are also in the process of recapitalizing, both through equity and exploring mortgage options on the farm to support our growth trajectory," he said, highlighting the $45 million invested by shareholders. "We are here to stay."

However, Lusk criticized the company's handling of the situation. "Their approach seems to assume that one of their choices is to do something illegal, which is not paying people for the work they do. It's just not an option," Lusk asserted.


Saginaw Man Briefly Dies After Shooting at Unauthorized Cannabis Grow Site

Published 2 weeks ago Legal & Crime
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A Saginaw man, Jerry Bryant, survived a gunshot wound to the chest at an unauthorized cannabis cultivation site but was left with a severed spinal cord. The alleged shooter, Owen M. Pipkins, his roommate and coworker, is now facing charges of attempted murder.

The preliminary hearing for 51-year-old Pipkins took place on Monday, July 1st, before Saginaw County District Judge David D. Hoffman. Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Melissa J. Hoover presented the case, with Hampton Township Public Safety Department Officer David Wheaton as the primary witness.

Wheaton, formerly a Saginaw Police detective, testified about responding to the incident at a commercial building at 2006 S. Niagara St. on June 10th. Pipkins had called 911, reporting that he had shot Bryant, 42.

The site housed a cannabis growing operation owned by multiple partners. Pipkins and Bryant also resided there, sleeping in two beds located on the premises.

When police arrived, they found Pipkins outside, and Bryant was transported to a local hospital. Pipkins was taken into custody and later interviewed by Wheaton at police headquarters, where he waived his Miranda rights.

According to Wheaton, Pipkins recounted that he and Bryant had prior altercations, including instances where Bryant allegedly used racial slurs and threatened him with a shovel. On the morning of June 10, Pipkins was asleep in a boat when Bryant entered, shouting and using a racial slur. Pipkins, who is Black, said Bryant, who is white, called him lazy.

In response, Pipkins fired a single shot from a handgun without seeing Bryant clearly, hitting him in the chest. Pipkins then contacted one of the owners of the cannabis operation before calling 911. While awaiting the police, Bryant told Pipkins he could not feel his legs.

Bryant had to be resuscitated at the hospital and remains bedridden, unable to move, Wheaton testified. No further witnesses were called by the prosecution.

Defense attorney Matthew M. Evans argued that there was no evidence of intent to kill. However, Judge Hoffman ruled in favor of the prosecution and moved the case to Circuit Court on charges of assault with intent to murder and felony firearm.

Pipkins has a criminal history, with four convictions in Sacramento, California. These include three from 1991 and a 2015 conviction for carrying a loaded firearm in public, for which he served 120 days in jail and three years' probation.


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CRA Calls for Public Help to Combat Illegal Cannabis Transport

Published 3 weeks ago Legal & Crime
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The Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) is amplifying its efforts to maintain the integrity of Michigan's regulated cannabis market through both proactive enforcement and community engagement. Recognizing the vital role that public tips play in uncovering illegal activities, the CRA is calling on citizens to report any knowledge of "brokers" transporting cannabis with a THC percentage greater than 0.3% across or through state lines into Michigan's regulated market.

Public involvement can significantly impact the success of enforcement investigations. Even minor observations or details can provide the crucial information needed to expose unlawful activities and maintain the safety and accountability of the cannabis community. The CRA emphasizes that those who comply with the state's cannabis laws should have the opportunity to thrive without the threat of illegal competition.

The CRA invites individuals to submit tips via email to [email protected], including relevant names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Each report will be thoroughly evaluated, and the CRA may collaborate with federal and state law enforcement agencies to address the reported activities.

By working together, Michigan can ensure a fair and law-abiding cannabis industry where legitimate businesses can flourish.