Menominee Councilman Under Scrutiny Over Real Estate Deal with Cannabis Business

April 18th, 2024 Legal & Crime
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Joseph S. Dulak, a council member in Menominee, Michigan, is at the center of controversy over his alleged ties to a real estate transaction benefiting from the town's thriving cannabis market. Menominee, situated on the Upper Peninsula border, has been a hotspot for cannabis-related business due to its strategic location.

According to public records, a real estate firm associated with Dulak profited significantly from selling a property to a cannabis business. This firm, identified as Keeko LLC, is reportedly linked to Dulak's son, Joseph M. Dulak, who serves as its president. The property in question was purchased for $160,000 and sold a mere week later for $229,000, netting a $69,000 profit.

While no laws or local ethical guidelines were breached, the optics of the transaction have raised concerns among Dulak's peers on the city council. Councilman Michael DeDamos expressed discomfort with the situation, suggesting that although not illegal, the deal could exacerbate public suspicions and confirm doubts within the community.

The timing of the sale coincides with an intense and prolonged battle over cannabis profits in Menominee, involving legal, political, and commercial stakes. Councilman Dulak, despite his claims of non-involvement in Keeko's operational decisions, admitted in a court deposition that he is authorized to conduct property transactions on behalf of Keeko.

The city council's reaction has been mixed, with some members demanding more transparency and even calling for an external investigation into Dulak's real estate dealings with cannabis companies. The Michigan Attorney General's Office, however, has not indicated whether it will pursue an investigation into these allegations.

Further complicating matters, Upper Shelf Farms, the cannabis business that purchased the property from Keeko, has been granted a temporary occupancy permit to renovate the building. The company plans to open its doors this summer, which could bring more attention to the transaction.

Councilman Dulak defends his position, stating the real estate deal was straightforward and not influenced by any personal or professional ties to the cannabis industry. Nevertheless, the controversy persists, highlighting the challenges and scrutiny often associated with the intersection of public service and private business interests in the burgeoning cannabis market.

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