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 April 26, 2023

Former top Michigan Republican pleads guilty to taking bribes

It was only a matter of time before politicians in positions of great power leveraged the growing legal cannabis industry to make a little -- illegal -- side money.

According to The Daily Wire, Rick Johnson, who led Michigan House Republicans from 2001-2004, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from companies wanting to open lucrative cannabis dispensaries in the state.

The bribes didn't happen when he was a state House Republican, though.

The bribes came later when he chaired Michigan's Medical Marijuana Licensing Board from 2017-2019. Given that the board had the sole power to grant highly sought-after licenses to operate cannabis businesses, a number of businesses and lobbyists took advantage.

In total, Johnson took in some $110,200 in cash bribes alone, not to mention other perks and gifts.

The Daily Wire noted:

Johnson faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He is expected to be sentenced within three to four months, according to Magistrate Judge Phillip Green.

The former Michigan state Republican lawmaker was able to be released from jail on a $25,000 unsecured bond, meaning he didn't have to put up any money to walk out.

Fox News described Johnson's downward legal spiral as a "remarkable fall," given he was the most powerful Republican in the state not long ago.

Fox added:

Two lobbyists, Brian Pierce and Vincent Brown, have agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to pass bribes to Johnson. All four men are cooperating with the FBI, which could help them at sentencing.

As far as future charges, U.S. Attorney Mark Totten indicated in a statement that it's possible, calling the investigation "ongoing."

"This investigation is ongoing, which is to say we may or may not bring future charges in this case," Totten said. "But what I can say is that the investigation and prosecution of public corruption is a priority for our office. We will follow it wherever we find it."

Only time will tell what happens to Johnson, but with the number of lobbyists and others working with the FBI, it looks like it's not going to be a great year for him.

Written By:
Ryan Ledendecker

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