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2 lobbyists sentenced to prison in Michigan cannabis bribery case

Two former lobbyists were sentenced to federal prison terms after pleading guilty to bribing a prominent Michigan politician in exchange for cannabis business licenses.

Brian Pierce, 45, received a 24-month sentence and Vincent Brown, 33, was sentenced to 20 months on Wednesday for their respective roles in attempting to bribe a former head of the state’s now-defunct Medical Marijuana Licensing Board, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release.

The lobbyists’ sentencing wraps up a sordid public corruption case that U.S. Attorney Mark Totten called a “poison to our democracy.”

According to court documents, Brown and Pierce conspired with businessman John Dalaly to bribe Rick Johnson, a former marijuana board executive, to win lucrative medical marijuana business permits.

All four pleaded guilty in April in what The Detroit News called the “largest public corruption scandal” in Michigan in 30 years.

Dalaly was sentenced in September to four years in prison.

For his part, Johnson received a sentence of nearly five years for accepting at least $110,200 in cash bribes, flights on private planes and commercial sex services with a Detroit stripper, prosecutors alleged.

In return, Johnson provided Dalaly and the lobbyists with information related to MMJ business license applications and also voted in favor of granting them licenses, prosecutors said.

Johnson served as the Republican speaker of the Michigan House from 2001 to 2004,

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer dissolved the licensing board that Johnson chaired shortly after she took office in 2019.

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