Businessman pleads guilty in bribes to head of medical marijuana licensing board

April 21 (UPI) -- A Michigan businessman pleaded guilty Friday to paying bribes to the chairman of Michigan's medical marijuana licensing board and hiring the chairman's wife as a consultant.

John Dalaly, 70, admitted that he provided more than $68,000 in cash and benefits to Rick Johnson, including international flights on private jets, in 2018 and 2019. Dalaly also said he paid Johnson's wife $4,000 a month in consulting fees.


He owned and operated a pair of medical marijuana businesses, one being a dispensary and the other a digital currency platform that was meant for medical marijuana treatments.

Dalaly, who became the first person to plead guilty in the probe, faces up to 10 years in prison. His lawyer, Raymond Cassar, said Dalaly hired Johnson's wife just to help fill out paperwork.

"Johnson said, 'Talk to my wife,'" Cassar said, according to The Detroit News. "And she was obviously the conduit."

The guilty plea comes 15 days after charges against Dalaly, Johnson and two lobbyists were announced. All four have reportedly agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Johnson, who was the Republican former Speaker of the House in Michigan, has been charged with accepting payment of bribes, which also carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the Detroit Free Press.


Johnson's plea hearing is set for Tuesday morning.

Dalaly will be sentenced on Sept. 14.

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