FERNDALE — Nine people who owned or worked at Clinical Relief will have to wait until next year to find out if they will stand trial for selling medical marijuana to undercover police with phony patient cards.
Judge Joseph Longo of the 43rd District Court laid out a three-month timeline Friday at the end of the preliminary examinations of the defendants arrested in Aug. 26 raids in Oakland and Macomb counties.
The judge has to decide if there is probable cause that the defendants committed the crimes of conspiracy and manufacturing and selling controlled substances. One of the defendants, Anthony Agro, 42, of Troy also was charged with felony firearm, which carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence.
Agro had a handgun he purchased in Colorado in a safe at the medical marijuana dispensary on Hilton Road, according to testimony by Friday’s lone witness, Derek Myers, the officer in charge of the investigation by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department’s Narcotics Enforcement Team.
The court hearing was held at the Kulick Community Center to accommodate the large number of defendants and their attorneys in what could become a test case of the 2008 law passed by voters to allow the use of medical marijuana.
Myers told the court he first went to Clinical Relief on July 9. He showed workers a patient card that he made himself and a driver’s license with an alias name that the state made him. He told them he had a bad back and expected to undergo surgery. He initialed a form telling him not to redistribute the products or drive under their influence before he bought an eighth of an ounce of loose and pre-rolled medical marijuana.
Myers said he went back July 26 with another undercover officer who had a fake patient card. They both bought an eighth of an ounce of marijuana and Myers testified he got a free gram for the referral.
On July 29 and Aug. 11, Myers told the court he bought another eighth of an ounce of marijuana and a marijuana sucker, respectively, the latter only after he learned Clinical Relief didn’t have any marijuana soda pop.
Then, on Aug. 26, Myers said he went to the dispensary with an ounce of marijuana from the sheriff department’s evidence room to do a “reverse buy.” He called his product “Evan’s Bubble Berry” and showed it to Agro in a back room.
Agro questioned the chemical smell and asked another defendant, Ryan Fleissner, 30, of Livonia for his opinion. Myers testified that Agro said he could only sell it as a mid-grade or give it to “Chef Nick” to use in food. Myers said he originally was offered $160 but he got $140 cash and a receipt.
As he left, Myers said he held the door open for the raid team armed with a search warrant and an array of guns. Myers told the court he went outside and put a mask over his face then joined the eight to 10 other supervisors and masked undercover officers.
Police ordered everyone to the ground. They arrested co-owners and workers, and seized four pounds of marijuana, nine plants, money from the safe and two cash registers, the handgun, and a ledger with names of people who bought medical marijuana.
Longo issued a protective order that prevents the ledger and its contents — patient names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of visits — from becoming part of the public record.
Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Beth Hand argued the ledger holds the names of customers, not patients. However, Longo said, “They are patients, or potential patients, of a physician and that information is protectable.”
Defense attorneys said their clients didn’t break any laws; the police did. One lawyer suggested Myers committed uttering and publishing by making the fake patient ID cards. Another got the officer to admit that he heard workers turn away someone without the proper paperwork.
Fleissner’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, said her client tried to educate Myers about good strains of medical marijuana so he wouldn’t be “ripped off.” She also asked the officer, “Is it true one SWAT team member put a long rifle to the back of Ryan’s head?”
Myers responded, “I don’t remember.”
She also said police seized the employees’ patient cards.
Agro’s attorney, Steven Fishman, said his client’s first response to Myers’ sales offer was “I have to pass on that right now. Sorry.”
“But you didn’t want to leave it that. You wanted him to make the purchase because it advances the police investigation,” Fishman said.
Myers told the court, “We played a little barter game — same thing with any sale.”
However, Fishman said Myers pressed his client, saying he didn’t want to get caught with the marijuana he brought in a mason jar. The attorney said Myers asked, “What can you pay me? Give me a price.”
Agro then asked, “You are a patient, right?” according to his attorney.
After Myers said he was a patient, Agro paid him and wrote out the receipt.
Myers testified about five hours. When he was done, the judge said he expects to have a transcript of the two days of court proceedings in two weeks.
Longo told the assistant prosecutor and defense attorneys to be prepared to submit written arguments and briefs by Dec. 10 with defense responses due Jan. 10, 2011, and prosecution responses by Feb. 10, 2011.
“I will read them and schedule a court date to render decisions on various topics,” Longo said.
The judge will decide if the defendants will be bound over for trial in Oakland County Circuit Court. In addition to Anthony Agro and Ryan Fleissner, they are Barbara Agro, 69, of Lake Orion; Nicholas Agro, 38, of Lake Orion; Mathew Curtis, 39, of Lake Orion; Stacey Ellenbrook, 41, of Chesterfield Township; Ryan Richmond, 33, of Royal Oak; Angelina Veseli, 24, of Roseville; and Barbara Johnson, 40, of Leonard.
Neil Rockind, P.C. is leading the way in Michigan Medical Marijuana Defense. If you or a loved one is faced with a violation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, or an investigation by any policing agency regarding such a violation, please contact Neil Rockind, P.C. at email@example.com or call our office directly at 248-208-3800 to schedule a free consultation!