A fourth person pleaded guilty on Friday in an ongoing federal investigation of bribery at the now-defunct Michigan marijuana licensing board.
Brian Pierce pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit bribery charge in a federal courtroom in Grand Rapids, reported local media. Pierce, along with Vincent Brown funneled $42,000 in bribes to former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson during Johnson’s tenure as chair of the now-defunct Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Agency. Johnson, Brown and Oakland County businessman John Dalaly all pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from the scheme.
Lobbyist, Brian Pierce, said he conspired to give $42,000 and other benefits to Rick Johnson to help clients with marijuana license applications before the board was disbanded in 2019.
Johnson pleaded guilty in April, admitting that he accepted at least $110,000 in exchange for approving applications. A businessman and another lobbyist have also pleaded guilty in the FBI investigation.
The FBI and a federal grand jury had been inspecting for nearly two years (2017-2019) during Johnson’s tenure as chairman of the Licensing Board during which time he was accused of accepting more than $100,000 in bribes in exchange for licenses to launch cannabis facilities
Johnson, a former Republican state lawmaker, served as speaker of the House from 2001 through 2004.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer abolished the medical marijuana board a few months after taking office in 2019 and put oversight inside a state agency.
Michigan voters legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2008. Voters approved the recreational use of marijuana in 2018.