California Dispensaries Moving to Block U.S. Marijuana Crackdown

November 8, 2011

The New York Times on November 7, 2011 released the following:

“By ERIK ECKHOLM

SAN FRANCISCO — Lawyers for the medical marijuana industry said on Monday that they would seek court orders to halt a threatened federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, their landlords and marijuana growers.

In legal motions to be filed on Tuesday, marijuana distributors and some medical patients will ask federal judges in four districts to issue temporary restraining orders to prevent federal prosecutors from taking action, lawyers and a lobbyist for the industry said at a news conference here on Monday.

“The government’s irrational policy has reached a breaking point,” said Matthew Kumin, one of the lawyers. “The federal government said it will not prosecute patients, and yet they want to shut off their supply. This doesn’t make sense.”

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though its use is allowed for medical purposes in California and some other states. But federal prosecutors and drug agents say that behind the mask of meeting medical needs, much of California’s burgeoning marijuana industry is engaged in large-scale illegal sales.

In letters sent out in late September, the prosecutors warned numerous dispensaries to shut down or face serious civil or criminal charges, including possible seizure of the property of their landlords. Recipients of letters were given 45 days to halt illegal sales, a period that for many ends on Saturday.

Mr. Kumin said that if a restraining order was not quickly granted by the federal judges, he expected some dispensaries to shut down.

The courts could issue an immediate restraint, schedule hearings on whether to grant a preliminary injunction or deny the requests, which the plaintiffs argue are based on a variety of constitutional and state rights.

Tensions between California and the federal government over medical marijuana have been building since the state became the first to authorize public sales, in 1996. Now, 15 other states and the District of Columbia also allow sales of marijuana to patients with a doctor’s prescription.

A thriving industry of growers and storefront dispensaries has emerged in California that pays substantial sums in state and local taxes, but that federal drug officials see as largely illegal. The Internal Revenue Service has also started a crackdown, denying some sellers the right to deduct marijuana-related business expenses.

Asked to comment on the suits, Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, issued this statement: “Unless and until ordered otherwise, we will continue to do our duty in enforcing federal narcotics laws.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Former McKinsey CEO Gupta pleads not guilty to insider-trading charges

October 27, 2011
Rajat K. Gupta
Image from The Washington Post

The Washington Post on October 26, 2011 released the following:

“By David S. Hilzenrath, Published: October 26

From Kolkata, India, Rajat K. Gupta rose to the heights of international business, leading the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and serving on the boards of companies such as Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble and the parent of American Airlines.

But on Wednesday, Gupta turned himself in at the New York office of the FBI, where he was fingerprinted, photographed and subjected to a DNA swab before going to court to face criminal charges that he participated in an insider trading scheme.

Gupta, 62, became the most prominent figure charged in a federal crackdown on insider trading that recently led to an 11-year prison sentence for his alleged co-conspirator, hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam.

The indictment alleges that Gupta divulged boardroom secrets to Rajaratnam, who then traded on them.

Gupta pleaded not guilty and was released. He was given until Nov. 11 to surrender his passport and post a $10 million bond secured by his Connecticut home.

Gupta’s attorney, Gary P. Naftalis, issued a statement saying that the charges “are totally baseless.”

“The facts in this case demonstrate that Mr. Gupta is innocent of any of these charges and that he has always acted with honesty and integrity,” Naftalis said.

Gupta had been under a cloud for months. The government declared him an unindicted co-conspirator during its prosecution of Rajaratnam, and shortly before Rajaratnam’s trial began, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged him administratively, laying out the allegations against him.

After losing a procedural battle, the SEC withdrew the administrative case in August, but on Wednesday it filed a civil suit against Gupta that paralleled the criminal charges.

According to the government, the conspiracy played out in 2008 and 2009. Sometimes, Gupta passed secrets to Rajaratnam, founder of Galleon Management, so quickly that his tips “could be termed instant messaging,” Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, said in a statement.

For example, on Sept. 23, 2008, as Wall Street teetered on the brink of collapse, Gupta participated by phone in a meeting in which the Goldman Sachs board approved a $5 billion infusion from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. At about 3:54 p.m., approximately 16 seconds after Gupta disconnected his phone from the Goldman call, his assistant phoned Rajaratnam and patched in Gupta, the indictment said. Gupta then told Rajaratnam about the Berkshire investment, the government said.

With two minutes to spare before the market closed, Rajaratnam then caused some of Galleon’s funds to buy Goldman shares, the government said. Goldman announced the deal with Berkshire after the market closed, and the next day Galleon sold the Goldman shares at an illegal profit of about $840,000, the government charged.

Similarly, in October 2008, Gupta and other Goldman directors were told that the Wall Street firm had lost almost $2 per share that quarter in what would be the first quarterly loss in Goldman’s history, the government said. Approximately 23 seconds after disconnecting from that call, Gupta called Rajaratnam, the indictment said. By selling Goldman shares, Galleon funds avoided millions of dollars of losses, the government said.

Entrusted with confidential information, Gupta “became the illegal eyes and ears in the boardroom for his friend and business associate,” Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for Manhattan, said in a statement.

Naftalis, the defense lawyer, said that there were legitimate reasons for Gupta’s communications with Rajaratnam and that the accusations “are based entirely on circumstantial evidence.”

Rajaratnam was convicted largely on the basis of government wiretaps, and verbatim excerpts of secretly recorded calls have figured prominently in other recent insider trading cases. The Gupta indictment does not explicitly cite recordings of Gupta passing inside information to Rajaratnam.

But in a July 2008 call captured by the government, Gupta talked to Rajaratnam about a Goldman board discussion and a rumor that Goldman might try to buy a commercial bank, according to a transcript.

“This was a big discussion at the board meeting,” Gupta allegedly said, adding that it was a “divided discussion in the board.”

Gupta’s fall from the top of the business world followed a dramatic rise.

In a 1994 interview with Business Today, the native of India said his father was a journalist and freedom fighter who had been jailed many times, and his mother taught at a Montessori school. He went from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi to Harvard Business School, where his classmates were surprised to learn he earned excellent grades.

“I never said much, you know,” he told the interviewer.

At age 45, he was running McKinsey, a post he held from 1994 to 2003.

He served on a board of advisers to the dean of Harvard Business School and on a similar panel at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He chaired an advisory panel for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and he became a special adviser to the secretary general of the United Nations.

Gupta’s trial is scheduled to begin in April.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


US attorney eyes going after media running pot ads

October 13, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“By JULIE WATSON
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The chief federal prosecutor in San Diego is contemplating expanding a federal crackdown on the medical marijuana industry by going after newspapers, radio stations and other outlets that run advertisements for California’s pot dispensaries, her office told The Associated Press on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy made the comments initially to California Watch, a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Journalism. They come a week after she and three other U.S. attorneys in California vowed to close medical marijuana businesses they deem questionable and single out people who rent buildings or land to the industry.

“I’m not just seeing print advertising,” Duffy told California Watch. “I’m actually hearing radio and seeing TV advertising. It’s gone mainstream. Not only is it inappropriate – one has to wonder what kind of message we’re sending to our children – it’s against the law.”

Duffy wasn’t available Thursday to speak to the AP but her office confirmed the comments published by California Watch.

The federal government will determine whether the media crackdown is necessary as the results of last week’s actions unfold, Duffy’s spokeswoman Debra Hartman said. She cited a federal law that prohibits people from placing ads that have the purpose of buying or selling a controlled substance.

“If I own a newspaper … or I own a TV station, and I’m going to take in your money to place these ads, I’m the person who is placing these ads,” Duffy said, according to California Watch. “I am willing to read (the law) expansively and if a court wants to more narrowly define it, that would be up to the court.”

Duffy declined to give further details on the plan under consideration or say whether a media crackdown would involve the state’s other U.S. attorneys. But a spokesman for the Sacramento U.S. attorney told the Bakersfield Californian that there were no plans to go after advertising.

Duffy’s comments are creating a buzz in the media industry, California Newspaper Publishers Association executive director Tom Newton said. As it stands now, advertisers are responsible for the contents of their ads in newspapers, he said.

“If they are false, misleading or fall below the line in other legal ways, advertisers are responsible,” he said. “Newspapers don’t have the staff or time to vet every claim in every ad that they run.”

Duffy, whose district encompasses San Diego and Imperial counties, and the U.S. attorneys in three other California districts sent written warnings last week to landlords leasing property to dozens of warehouses and agricultural parcels where marijuana is being grown and for retail spaces where it is sold, telling them to evict their tenants or face criminal charges or seizure of their assets.

The attorneys say the state’s law legalizing medical marijuana was intended to allow it to be supplied to seriously ill people on a nonprofit basis. But the law has been abused by people who are just looking to get rich, they say.

The action comes only months after the Obama administration tightened its stance on the issue.

Media owners were waiting to see what happens before reacting publicly, Newton said.

“I think everybody needs to take a breath here and really think about the implications of this issue and whether or not this is a reasonable effort and use of the limited resources of the U.S. attorney’s office,” Newton said.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.