Detroit Grandmother Exposes Illegal Marijuana Sales to Minors

Published 1 week ago Legal & Crime Ryan Spegal
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In a determined effort to address illegal marijuana sales to minors, a Detroit grandmother, Vivienne Miles-Jackson, orchestrated an undercover operation to gather evidence against a local hookah shop accused of selling cannabis to her 15-year-old grandson. The establishment, Detroit Hookah, located on the east side of Detroit and in close proximity to John J. Pershing High School, has no license to distribute marijuana, raising significant concerns over the safety and legality of its operations.

Motivated by a deep concern for the well-being of her grandson and potentially other minors, Miles-Jackson equipped her grandson with a camera to document his purchase of marijuana from the shop. This strategic move was aimed at securing incontrovertible proof of the illegal transactions purportedly taking place at the establishment.

Upon successfully capturing the transaction on video, where her grandson was shown exchanging money for a sealed package of marijuana, Miles-Jackson promptly reported the incident to the Detroit Police Department (DPD), providing them with the recorded evidence. The subsequent police investigation into Detroit Hookah unveiled a startling discovery: the seizure of over 11,000 grams of marijuana, an amount likened to a garbage bag full of the substance, as stated by DPD Commander Eric Decker.

Despite the shop owner's absence during a visit by reporters and his cousin's dismissal of the video as a setup, claiming no weed is sold at the shop, the police's findings underscored the gravity of the situation. Commander Decker highlighted the initial steps taken against the business owner, including the issuance of several tickets, and hinted at the possibility of further action pending a comprehensive investigation.

This case emerges amidst a broader crackdown on illegal activities in establishments such as gas stations, convenience stores, and hookah lounges by DPD’s revamped Vice Enforcement unit. The unit's proactive approach involves regular inspections and undercover operations to ensure compliance with licensing requirements, aiming to curb illicit practices like the unlicensed sale of marijuana.

The ongoing investigation into Detroit Hookah serves as a stark reminder of the challenges facing law enforcement and communities in safeguarding minors from illegal drug transactions, as well as the crucial role of vigilant citizens in assisting police efforts to uphold the law.


Menominee City Council Proposes Full Settlement to End Marijuana Lawsuits

Published 1 week ago Legal & Crime Ryan Spegal
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In a significant development within the Menominee city council's ongoing legal entanglements with local marijuana dispensaries, a special meeting held on Wednesday night indicated potential strides towards resolving disputes that have spanned years. The meeting, which was not open to the public, concluded with the council members announcing their decision to reject a partial settlement proposal from two dispensaries, Rize U.P. and The Fire Station (TFS), who are currently suing the city. Instead, the city has proposed a comprehensive settlement offer, aiming to put an end to the legal battles.

This move comes after a judge mandated mediation between the parties at the start of the year, with the dispensaries proposing a partial settlement in late January. The timing of these negotiations is crucial, as the license renewals for Rize and TFS are approaching on February 29th. An intriguing aspect of the renewal process is a requirement for applicants to withdraw any ongoing lawsuits against the city to secure their operational status, thus putting pressure on the dispensaries to find a resolution.

Councilmember Michael Dedamos voiced a reluctance to see any parties severely impacted, emphasizing a preference for negotiation over any loss of licenses or employment. The initial offer from Rize and TFS included dropping all claims except those related to the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. In return, they sought stricter zoning laws, special allowances, and exemptions for current dispensaries, which would essentially allow them to maintain a dominant market position.

Mayor Casey Hoffman expressed a firm stance against accepting any settlement that would unduly favor the suing dispensaries, labeling the initial proposal as a "Trojan Horse." The counter-offer made by the city reportedly encompasses a full settlement of all claims and introduces terms that might allow dispensaries to relocate, albeit with restrictions on possible locations.

The response from other local dispensaries has been mixed, with some advocating for a hard line against the suing parties to prevent undue advantages. Public comments at the meeting reflected a broad spectrum of views, with some emphasizing the need for resolution and others criticizing the proposed settlement for offering unilateral benefits to Rize and TFS without adequate returns for the city.

The legal stance of the city, as articulated by council members and reflected in public sentiment, underscores a collective desire to conclude the lawsuits without compromising the city's interests or the competitive landscape of the local marijuana industry. As negotiations continue, the outcome of this dispute will likely have significant implications for the regulatory and operational dynamics of marijuana dispensaries in Menominee.

The city's counter-proposal aims to balance the need for regulatory compliance and fair competition among dispensaries. As the community awaits a response from Rize and TFS, the resolution of this conflict could mark a pivotal moment in the city's relationship with its marijuana businesses.



SEC Continues Legal Battle Against Michigan Cannabis Fraud Case

Published 1 week ago Legal & Crime Ryan Spegal
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In a significant development within the Michigan legal landscape, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is persisting with its fraud case against Robert Shumake, Jr., despite facing challenges related to bankruptcy claims and the uncertain prospect of financial restitution through fines. The case, which has garnered attention due to its implications for investor protection and the integrity of crowdfunding initiatives, underscores the complexities of enforcing securities law in the burgeoning cannabis industry.

The Allegations Unfold

The crux of the SEC's allegations, first brought to light in 2021, involves fraudulent activities connected to unregistered crowdfunding offerings. Robert Shumake, Jr., along with Nicole Birch and Willard Jackson, is accused of orchestrating deceptive schemes through their involvement with two companies: Transatlantic Real Estate and 420 Real Estate. These entities were purportedly engaged in the cannabis and hemp sectors.

The SEC's complaint details how Shumake, in collaboration with Birch and Jackson, managed to raise substantial sums from retail investors—$1,020,100 through Transatlantic Real Estate and $888,180 via 420 Real Estate. However, instead of channeling these funds towards their stated investment purposes, the trio allegedly diverted them for personal use, betraying the trust of their investors.

The timeline of these unauthorized securities offerings spans from September 2018 through June 2020, with Shumake purportedly playing a pivotal role in both ventures. His attempt to conceal his involvement, due to a prior criminal conviction related to mortgage fraud, involved positioning Birch and Jackson in leading roles within the respective companies, thus maintaining a facade of legitimacy.

Legal and Financial Entanglements

Complicating the SEC's efforts to hold Shumake accountable is his strategic maneuver to declare bankruptcy, a move that potentially shields him from financial penalties. The SEC, however, argues that its enforcement actions are exempt from bankruptcy protections, emphasizing its mandate to safeguard investors and maintain market integrity. The agency contends that its pursuit of justice in this case falls within its "police power," a principle that transcends the limitations typically imposed by bankruptcy proceedings.

Adding a layer of intrigue to the proceedings is Shumake's decision to legally change his name to Bobby Shumake Japhia in May 2023. The SEC's attempts to adapt its documentation to reflect this change have been hampered by a lack of cooperation from Japhia's legal counsel, further complicating the legal landscape.

The Path Forward

As the case progresses, the departure of Japhia's legal representation due to unpaid bills underscores the financial instability surrounding his defense. The law firm's withdrawal, citing debts exceeding $36,000, signals a turbulent phase in the litigation process. Despite these challenges, the SEC remains committed to its mission of penalizing and preventing fraudulent activities within the securities market, highlighting the case's broader implications for regulatory oversight and investor protection.

This ongoing legal battle not only emphasizes the regulatory challenges associated with crowdfunding and investment in the cannabis sector but also serves as a cautionary tale for investors and industry stakeholders about the importance of due diligence and the risks of fraudulent schemes.


Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency Announces January 2024 Compliance Actions

Published 2 weeks ago Legal & Crime Ryan Spegal
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In a recent update, the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) of Michigan released its January 2024 Disciplinary Action Report, outlining the administrative formal complaints and disciplinary actions taken against licensees in the state's adult-use and medical cannabis sectors. The report reveals a series of compliance failures across a number of operations, highlighting the agency's ongoing efforts to enforce regulations within the industry.

Detailed Disciplinary Actions Across Michigan

The CRA's January report lists several businesses across Michigan facing disciplinary actions for a variety of infractions, ranging from failure to report material changes in operations to non-compliance with the state's tracking system and security requirements.

  • Vassar: 664 Vassar, LLC, operating as Premier Provisioning Center #2, faced actions for issues including unreported operational changes, general operational issues, METRC non-compliance, improper transfers between businesses, and security lapses.
  • Ann Arbor: East Coastline, LLC, known as Cloud Cannabis Company, was penalized for AFS non-compliance and non-compliant sales. The Calmic, LLC, doing business as Apothecare Ann Arbor, was cited for operational issues and non-compliant waste disposal.
  • Lansing: Edgewood Wellness, LLC, under the name Edgewood Cannabis, was disciplined for METRC non-compliance and non-compliant sales.
  • Detroit: Evergreen Wellness Group, LLC, operating as Amplified Alternative Relief, faced actions for AFS non-compliance.
  • Michigan Center and Beyond: Several other entities across the state, including Feleo Manufacturing Strategies, LLC (TreeTown Cannabis) in Michigan Center, and First Dort Enterprises, LLC (First Organic Solutions) in Flint, were cited for METRC non-compliance, security issues, and AFS non-compliance.

The CRA's report underscores the diverse nature of compliance issues facing the cannabis industry in Michigan, from operational mismanagement and security lapses to specific failures in adhering to the state's Adult-Use Marijuana and Medical Marijuana facilities system (METRC), packaging, advertising, and sales regulations.

Implications for the Michigan Cannabis Industry

These disciplinary actions serve as a reminder of the importance of strict adherence to regulatory requirements within the cannabis industry. For businesses, the consequences of non-compliance can range from fines to the suspension or revocation of licenses, underscoring the need for ongoing vigilance and adherence to state laws and regulations. For consumers, these enforcement actions assure that Michigan's cannabis market remains safe, compliant, and transparent.

The CRA's commitment to enforcing regulations and ensuring compliance is crucial for maintaining the integrity of Michigan's cannabis industry, promoting fair business practices, and protecting consumers. As the industry continues to evolve, the agency's role in oversight and enforcement will remain vital for the development of a responsible and sustainable market.

Conclusion

The January 2024 Disciplinary Action Report by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency highlights the ongoing challenges and regulatory enforcement activities within Michigan's burgeoning cannabis industry. As the state continues to navigate the complexities of cannabis regulation, these actions are essential for fostering a compliant, safe, and thriving market for all stakeholders involved.


Michigan Judicial Watchdog Clears Judge of Ethics Complaint in Marijuana Case

Published 2 weeks ago Legal & Crime Ryan Spegal
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The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has concluded its examination of ethics allegations against Wayne County Circuit Judge Paul Cusick, leading to the complete dismissal of the charges. The inquiry centered on accusations that, during his tenure as an assistant attorney general, Cusick had engaged in misconduct by allowing a confidential informant to commit perjury in a marijuana-related case. The commission's decision was significantly influenced by a special master's report, which found insufficient credible evidence to support the allegations.

The ethics complaint, filed in November 2022, detailed accusations against Judge Cusick for not disclosing specific arrangements regarding an informant's cooperation with law enforcement. This cooperation was allegedly aimed at obtaining a lenient sentence for the informant's boyfriend, who was implicated in a marijuana enterprise. The complaint further alleged that Cusick permitted the informant to provide false testimony and obstructed the defense's efforts to probe the terms of her collaboration with the authorities.

Special Master Peter D. Houk, in his September recommendation for dismissal, expressed belief in Cusick's statements denying knowledge of any deal benefiting the informant's boyfriend. The commission majority echoed Houk's assessment, valuing the insights from experienced trial attorneys on the use of confidential informants in drug prosecutions.

However, the decision was not unanimous. Two commissioners, Judges Monte J. Burmeister and Pablo Cortes, dissented in part. They concurred with much of the majority's view but argued that evidence suggested Cusick was aware of the informant's actual motives, thus violating a Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct by permitting her misleading testimony.

The dissenting opinion highlighted discrepancies between the informant's stated reasons for participating in the case and the evidence, suggesting a deeper involvement in drug trafficking activities led by her boyfriend. This discrepancy raised questions about Cusick's assertions of ignorance regarding the informant's motivations.

Further complicating the situation, defense counsel for the accused dispensary owner had clandestinely recorded a meeting with the informant. This recording, according to Cusick's legal representation, confirmed the informant's honesty about her motives. The defense's failure to disclose this recording was criticized by Cusick's attorneys, who argued that the omission contributed to a misleading portrayal of the judge's actions.

In defending Judge Cusick, his lawyers emphasized the lack of written evidence to prove knowledge of any agreement between the informant and her boyfriend, challenging the disciplinary counsel's ability to substantiate their allegations of misconduct.

The case's resolution leaves open questions about the judicial process and the use of confidential informants in legal proceedings. Representatives for the Judicial Tenure Commission and Judge Cusick's legal team provided contrasting perspectives on the implications of the case and the evidence presented during the investigation.

The commission's decision to dismiss the complaint against Judge Cusick marks the end of a closely watched judicial ethics investigation, underscoring the complexities and challenges in maintaining transparency and integrity within the legal system.



Overwhelming Seizure of Narcotics and Firearms in Lenawee County Operation

Published 3 weeks ago Legal & Crime Ryan Spegal
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In a significant operation led by narcotics investigators from the Region of Irish Hills Narcotics Office (RHINO), a considerable cache of firearms and illegal substances was confiscated during a search in Lenawee County, Michigan. This action, part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, underscores the concerted efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat drug-related crimes in the region.

On Tuesday, February 6th, RHINO detectives executed a search warrant at a residence in Lenawee County. The Michigan State Police reported that the operation resulted in the seizure of an alarming array of illegal items. Investigators discovered over 12 ounces of cocaine, quantities of LSD intended for distribution, numerous bags of hallucinogenic mushrooms, approximately 29 pounds of processed marijuana, and 16 firearms. The assortment and volume of the narcotics and weapons underscore the significant scale of this drug operation.

In addition to the items immediately seized, authorities collected other suspected narcotics, which will undergo analysis at the Michigan State Police Forensic Laboratory to confirm their composition and potentially add further charges against those involved.

A suspect was apprehended at the scene of the search. However, details regarding their identity and the charges they face have not been disclosed as the suspect awaits arraignment. This arrest marks a crucial step in the investigation, though the operation remains active with ongoing inquiries.

The RHINO office, committed to disrupting drug trafficking and related criminal activities, urges the public to come forward with any information that could aid their efforts. They emphasize the importance of community involvement in their fight against narcotics and assure confidentiality for those who wish to provide tips anonymously.

Support for the operation came from several units within the Michigan State Police, including the MSP Aviation Unit, troopers from the MSP-Monroe Post, the MSP K-9 Unit, and the Jackson Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET). This collaborative approach highlights the broad commitment across various law enforcement agencies to address and mitigate the challenges posed by drug trafficking and its associated crimes.

As the investigation progresses, the RHINO office and its partners remain dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of the communities within Lenawee County and beyond, signaling a continued crackdown on narcotics distribution networks.