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Eight Of Nine Defendants Bound Over For Trial In Ferndale Medical Marijuana Case


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Eight of nine defendants bound over for trial in Ferndale medical marijuana case

 

 

By Catherine Kavanaugh

 

Daily Tribune Staff Writer

 

 

 

 

FERNDALE – Eight of nine people with ties to a medical marijuana clinic raided by undercover police last August learned Friday they will stand trial on drug and conspiracy charges.

 

 

The defendants owned or worked at Clinical Relief on Hilton Road. They waited six months for attorneys to file written arguments and rebuttals so 43rd District Judge Joseph Longo could make a ruling.

 

 

Longo found there was probable cause that eight defendants broke laws when marijuana was sold to undercover police at the clinic.

 

 

The police had phony patient cards indicating they were certified to use medical marijuana and at least one officer also showed a driver’s license made by the state with his alias.

 

 

However, Longo said the case before him had nothing to do with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

 

 

“It may become one but it hasn’t developed into one yet,” Longo said. “Those answers will come some place else not here.”

 

 

The defendants from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties were charged with conspiracy and manufacturing and delivering controlled substances following the raid by police on the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET).

 

 

Longo dismissed all charges against Stacey Ellenbrook, 41, of Chesterfield Township, saying she acted only as a receptionist at Clinical Relief.

 

 

“She checked in people and directed them to a waiting room,” Longo said.

 

 

He also dismissed two felony firearm charges against Anthony Agro, 42, of Troy, who would have spent a mandatory two years in prison if convicted.

 

 

Agro and other defendants, including his mother and brother, clapped quietly when Longo ruled there wasn’t sufficient evidence to put him on trial for possession of a firearm during a felony.

 

 

The judge pointed out that the handgun in question is registered to Agro’s brother and it was in a safe with marijuana and cash in another room. He ruled no evidence shows Agro knew the gun was there.

 

 

However, Agro was bound over for trial on 10 other charges, including two counts of conspiracy, seven counts of delivering or manufacturing marijuana, and one count of delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance called THC.

 

 

Longo also dismissed four of six charges against Agro’s mother, Barbara Agro, 69, of Lake Orion, saying she too acted as a receptionist except on Aug. 25, 2010. The judge said that’s when an undercover office went to the clinic to “unload” marijuana and she responded “it looks like you’re here to see Tony.”

 

 

Barbara Agro will stand trial on one count of conspiracy and one count of possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

 

 

Her other son, Nicholas Agro, 38, of Lake Orion, was known as “Chef Nick” on the clinic web site. He owned Clinical Relief with Mathew Curtis, 39, of Lake Orion and Ryan Richmond, 33, of Royal Oak. They each will stand trial for two counts each of conspiracy to deliver and manufacture marijuana and THC.

 

 

Curtis also was bound over on two counts of delivering and manufacturing marijuana. He took undercover officers to the sales room, according to police testimony.

 

 

Also facing trial are Ryan Fleissner, 30, of Livonia; Angelina Veseli, 24, of Roseville; and Barbara Johnson, 40, of Leonard.

 

 

Fleissner and Johnson will each stand trial on two counts of conspiracy, two counts of manufacturing or delivering marijuana and one count of delivering THC.

 

 

Veseli will go to trial for aiding and abetting. She greeted an undercover officer at the door and introduced him to Fleissner, according to police testimony.

 

 

Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Beth Hand was the only attorney to call witness at the preliminary examination held in November at the Kulick Community Center because there were so many defendants and lawyers.

 

 

Only one of the defense attorney, Steve Fishman, appeared in court Friday to hear Longo’s decision.

 

 

“I’m the designated hitter,” he said.

 

 

Longo continued the bond for the defendants while they await trial in Oakland County Circuit Court.

 

 

Eight other defendants charged after NET raids last summer of two Waterford businesses were ordered to stand trial in March. Those defendants had ties to Everybody’s Café and Herbal Remedies.

 

 

These cases are a couple of a growing number that could be a test case of the 2008 state act passed by 63 percent of Michigan voters.

 

 

 

 

Michael A. Komorn

 

Attorney and Counselor

 

Law Office of Michael A. Komorn

 

3000 Town Center, Suite, 1800

 

Southfield, MI 48075

 

800-656-3557 (Toll Free)

 

248-351-2200 (Office)

 

248-357-2550 (Phone)

 

248-351-2211 (Fax)

 

Email: michael@komornlaw.com

 

Website: www.komornlaw.com

 

Check out our Radio show:

 

http://www.blogtalkr...lanetgreentrees

 

NEW CALL IN NUMBER: (347) 326-9626

 

Live Every Wednesday 8-10:00p.m.

 

PLANET GREENTREES

 

w/ Attorney Michael Komorn

 

 

 

The most relevant radio talk show for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Community. PERIOD.

 

 

 

If you have a medical marihuana question or comment, please email them to me, or leave them on the forum for the MMMA, and I will try to answer them live on the air.

 

 

 

http://www.blogtalkr...lanetgreentrees

 

PLANET GREENTREES Call-in Number: (347) 326-9626

 

Call-in Number: (347) 326-9626

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They are being charged like a criminal drug ring,sick. Our system is unjust and broke. Seems more like a third world justice system then a civilized nation.

 

What a great use of Taxpayer's money !!

 

Criminalize folks for selling a medicinal herb !!!!

 

Further testimony to the insanity of our Judicial system !!!

 

We need to organize a Nullification Initiative whereby volunteers who live near this courtroom are available to hand out those Jury Nullification pamphlets when the juror pool is summoned !!!

 

dr. Jinx

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Guest knucklehead bob

These cases are a couple of a growing number that could be a test case of the 2008 state act passed by 63 percent of Michigan voters. Question ; How are they going to be a test case for "Medical Marijuana" if a defendant cannot say "Medical Marijuana" ?

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I just find it crazy that they are prosecuting these people. Hell, the cops even went as far to give themselves fake I.D's and MMJ cards to prove it was "legal" for them to acquire and transfer the meds, and then just come back and bust everyone.... It is just ridiculous, I am honestly appalled that our law enforcement is actually taking the time to do this (as well as the money). Why go after the sick and the people providing the sick with medication when this state has enough criminal activity to keep them busy without going after state sanctioned activity. I live in Flint and believe me cops have much more important things to do than to bust patients and caregivers which the crime around here, and to think they waste time with things like this....

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The criminal injustice system- a cruel, twisted hoax perpetuated against We the People. It's all an illusion, freedom, democracy, etc, though of course it could be much worse, but it's bad enough. It's up to The People to make it better. We need to make sure whoever we elect will LISTEN to US, we need to make sure whoever we replace snyder with, will do better and LISTEN to US, AND FROM NOW ON, we need to make sure we won't be fooled again. :(

 

Sb :growl:

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I just find it crazy that they are prosecuting these people. Hell, the cops even went as far to give themselves fake I.D's and MMJ cards to prove it was "legal" for them to acquire and transfer the meds, and then just come back and bust everyone.... It is just ridiculous, I am honestly appalled that our law enforcement is actually taking the time to do this (as well as the money). Why go after the sick and the people providing the sick with medication when this state has enough criminal activity to keep them busy without going after state sanctioned activity. I live in Flint and believe me cops have much more important things to do than to bust patients and caregivers which the crime around here, and to think they waste time with things like this....

 

 

Surprised they took the time ? The article fails to detail they were wrecking and taking every dollar they could find and none was ever recovered like the $11,000 the Senior Argo had to buy a car . If people think they would never have that kind of money ...your wrong . I bought a van set up for my disabillity 8 years ago the old guy wanted nothing but cash PERIOD $10.500 ! . I have yet to have somebody say oh please write me a check for my __________ ( fill in the blank ) . These stormtroopers made a fortune in overtime and plunder by doing this ....at least nobody was killed oops I forgot . No disrespect intended . Anyone that thinks what happened was appropriate on either side of the medicinal cannabis debate needs their head examined . This was a prime example of why we just need to take all cannabis laws off the books period . There is enough suffering in the world we don't have to artificially create crime with a black market along with division within society that creates a economy underground .

Edited by Croppled1
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I have a couple of questions that maybe someone could answer. First, were these folks in violation of the MMMA? Second, if a legal patient or caregiver (or dispensary) is in violation of the law, how is this to be handled, according to state law? Obviously, treating them like drug dealers is insane, especially in light of the MMMMA, but that seems to be what LEO and the courts are doing. I haven't read all of the MMMA (admitting my ignorance here. I guess I should read the whole thing) but wasn't this addressed there, and if not, why not? I know that there are penalties for government employees who violate our rights under the law (not enforced), but what about when we break the law? Did they expect this problem to be dealt with by our state government? Someone please help me understand this.

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The article fails to mention that these NET officers are directly responsible for Sal Agro's death....they should be prosecuted for 1st degree murder

 

RIP SAL AGRO................................Marijuana Martyr.............................................................You Will Not Be Forgotten

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  • 5 years later...

Since the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) became law in 2008, there have been a slew of legal maneuvers, precedent-setting cases, and even a new set of laws in 2016 regulating how cannabis may be cultivated and sold. All of these actions have been aimed, from one perspective or another, at clarifying what the law really intends.

Public opinion overwhelmingly supports medical marijuana, and recreational use is supported at margins that win most elections. Still, there are many who consider the plant to be the scourge of humanity. They are sizable and powerful enough to cause significant troubles of all kinds to their opposition. 

 

So we're going to fight about it. 

One tactic of the fight has been "the law says you can have it but it doesn't say where you can get it" ploy. Which brings us to the Clinical Relief case.

On Aug. 25, 2010, Clinical Relief, a medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale, was raided by the Oakland County Sheriff. It was part of a series of raids whereby Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper laid down the law that there would be no marijuana dispensaries in Oakland County. 

That case still isn't settled. By the time the trial gets underway in June, it will be nearly seven years that the lives of defendants Barbara Agro, Anthony Agro, Nicholas Agro, Ryan Richmond, and Barbara Johnson were upended. They face various counts of conspiracy and delivery of a controlled substance. Their lawyers met in court last week to set dates for legal proceedings. 

They can't come too soon for Barbara Agro, 76 years old and the mother of the other Agro defendants. Her husband, Sal, would also be facing charges except that he died of a heart attack a few days after their arrests. Actually, it probably can't come soon enough for all parties concerned.

One proceeding is a Feb. 15 hearing on a key motion presented by the prosecution. That motion is to suppress the fact that all defendants were medical marijuana patients or caregivers and they were acting under the belief that it was all legal and protected under the MMMA. The city of Ferndale gave Clinical Relief a certificate of occupancy and the mayor toured the premises, praising it in media reports. The county saw it differently.

"I think they are trumped-up charges against people who had no intent to ever commit a crime," says Lansing attorney Mary Chartier Mittendorf, who represents Barbara Agro. "This is really an example of government overreaching and not respecting the vote of the people."

Part of that disrespect is in not allowing juries to know that defendants are medical marijuana patients, thereby hiding the context of the activities. Furthermore, in 2016 the state legislature created laws that said that there can be marijuana stores, so prosecuting someone for having had a marijuana store seems a little ridiculous. I left a message at the office of Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper asking why the county is continuing to pursue the charges. As of deadline there was no response.

"The prosecutor has filed a motion for the judge to prevent us from arguing what our clients believed at the time they were operating Clinical Relief, no mention of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act," says attorney Neil Rockind, who represents Richards. "The clients believed, albeit wrongfully, that they were in compliance with the act. We are in total opposition. ... The facts of the case are that with the blessing of the city they had a shop that was open in broad daylight."

The circuitous trail of this case has tested the wills of all concerned. The raid and charges came after sheriff's deputies made medical purchases at the facility with fake state identification cards that they manufactured themselves. Convictions, appeals, charges dismissed, charges reinstated, convictions affirmed by the Court of Appeals, etc., have led to where we are now. Arguing, yet again, about if the defense can argue that the defendants believed they were compliant with the MMMA.

And if not, their lawyers can let the cat out of the bag in other ways.

"It's an important motion but it's not key to the whole case," Mittendorf says. "There are viable defenses. The jury will be able to understand what happened to them."

Attorney Paul Tylenda, who represents Nicholas Agro, has experience in revealing that kind of information under duress.

"Yes, I've done it before, let it be known," he says. "The people aren't dumb. Ask a cop a few questions, truth will come out, and the jury will understand."

At this point, all of the defendants understand the issue here. It comes down to a legal "state of mind" wherein they believed they were compliant with the law. It's also about whether there are protections under the MMMA. Unfortunately for too many people, that has not been the case in Oakland County. Now that point is under contention for five people who should never have been charged in the first place. The county came down hard when maybe a notice to "cease and desist" might have done the job. But Cooper, and Sheriff Mike Bouchard, were sending a message.

"I think it's become a situation for prosecutors that they can't concede because they can't show weakness," Tylenda says. "They have to push the arrow through rather than pull the arrow out because it's too deep in the flesh."

Dredging up an image from old Western movies seems appropriate for the situation. The situation in Michigan regarding medical marijuana has been described as a Wild West situation numerous times. The implication is that marijuana users are out of control and need to be reined in. 

Here's another thing about the Wild West. Justice was applied unevenly, erratically and was dependent on wildly divergent opinions. 

I guess we do need to get out of the Wild West mentality.

Everybody say "Om"

I've heard people in the Detroit caregiver centers community talk about wanting to become more like the places in Ann Arbor as far as their medical mission. The places I've been to in Detroit are security heavy and the bud tenders are not very chatty. 

I've only been inside a couple of places in Ann Arbor but I've got to tell you the folks there like to talk. Maybe that's an outgrowth of the tolerant attitude that city has shown toward marijuana that has fostered an openness and curiosity rather than paranoia.

With that enlightenment in mind, I find it interesting that the Om of Medicine in Ann Arbor is taking its medical mission to another level with medical marijuana support group meetings at the Main Street facility. At least initially it looks like the Om is pitching to people who want to reduce their use of opiates or other pharmaceutical drugs, or those who wish to eliminate alcohol or nicotine from their lives. The first meeting was this past Sunday, but it's open to all patients. You can give the Om a call at 248-369-8255.

Washtenaw County, where Ann Arbor is located, is a prime example of how being tolerant of cannabis does not destroy your community. And the Om is an example of how people who don't have to be looking over their shoulder all the time and being consumed with paranoia can move things forward in a positive way.

 

http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/higher-ground-a-wild-west-for-michigan-marijuana/Content?oid=2483288

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