Medical Marijuana Licenses & Bribes: John Dalaly Faces Sentencing

September 6th, 2023 Legal & Crime
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John Dawood Dalaly, an entrepreneur from West Bloomfield Township, faces potential federal prison time for his involvement in a bribery scheme with Rick Johnson, the former head of Michigan's medical marijuana licensing board. The controversy is the most significant public corruption incident in the Michigan Capitol in three decades.

Dalaly's legal counsel, Raymond Cassar, expressed in recent federal court documents that his client deeply regrets his choices and should be considered for a lenient sentence. Dalaly's health issues, including coronary disease, were cited as factors warranting a reduced sentence.

Dalaly's collaboration with federal investigators and his remorse were emphasized by Cassar, stating, "Mr. Dalaly has consistently cooperated and was prompt to admit his guilt. The repercussions of his actions, especially on his family, weigh heavily on him."

For his involvement in the bribery scheme, Dalaly is set to be sentenced on September 14th by U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering. Prosecutors highlight that Dalaly paid bribes amounting to $68,200 to Johnson in return for medical marijuana licenses.

However, Cassar counters, "John Dalaly's story is a reminder that even good individuals can make grave errors."

Dalaly had entered a guilty plea in April. This followed shortly after charges were announced against him, lobbyists Brian Pierce, Vincent Brown, and Johnson. All parties have now made plea agreements with the authorities and are set for sentencing this month.

Dalaly, aged 71, had earlier agreed to plead guilty to bribing Johnson. The maximum penalty is ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

It is noted that Dalaly initiated payments to Johnson in 2018 to secure licenses for a medical marijuana venture and aid in launching a digital payment platform for marijuana transactions. Johnson's wife was also hired by Dalaly at a consulting rate of $4,000 per month.

Cassar added, "John did not have a meticulous plan to bribe Rick Johnson. He acknowledges the glaring 'red flags' in hiring Johnson's wife, even if Rick Johnson justified it as legal."

The defense also took issue with the calculated amount of the bribe and the potential sentencing calculations, suggesting a lower figure and highlighting that Johnson was but one of five board members.

Cassar paints a vivid picture of Dalaly as a dedicated, charitable individual who immigrated from Iraq and is a devoted father and grandfather. One touching moment shared was a conversation between Dalaly and his granddaughter where he admitted to her, "Papa did business with a bad guy."

Cassar concludes, "John confronts the repercussions of his actions daily, especially when witnessing its impact on his family."

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