The Oklahoman reports
A politically connected attorney who served as Gov. Kevin Stitt’s hospital surge plan adviser during the pandemic was accused Monday in a drug trafficking charge of illegal involvement in marijuana businesses.
Matt Stacy, 43, became the latest attorney to be accused of helping out-of-state clients establish marijuana grow operations by finding them “ghost” owners in Oklahoma.
Stitt on Monday said he will be donating Stacy’s contribution to his reelection campaign to charity. Stacy, a lieutenant colonel in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, donated $2,900 to Stitt last year.
Stacy was charged Monday in Garvin County District Court with 13 felony counts after being indicted last month by the state’s multicounty grand jury.
Stacy “has acted as a consigliere to international drug trafficking organizations engaged in industrial-scale black-market marijuana manufacturing and trafficking,” a state narcotics investigator alleged in an affidavit filed with the charge.
The illegal conduct included “structuring fraudulent ‘straw’ ownership schemes to circumvent Oklahoma ownership disclosure and structure requirements for medical marijuana businesses,” the agent with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control alleged.
State law requires a licensed grow operation to be at least 75% owned by Oklahoma residents. “On multiple occasions, Stacy created and/or facilitated the creation of business entities through the use or recruitment of Oklahoma residents to operate as ‘straw owners’ to facially satisfy the Oklahoma residency requirements.” the agent alleged.
One grower reported paying Stacy $60,000, according to the affidavit.
One Oklahoma “ghost” owner recruited by Stacy reportedly was paid $5,000 a year for each license retained in her name, according to the affidavit. “Yeah, it’s a good deal, especially when you are not liable for s—,” her husband told agents in an interview.
Stacy also counseled growers they could manufacture marijuana without the proper licenses and registration and told clients how to provide misleading information to open bank accounts for a marijuana business, the agent alleged.
Stacy faces two counts of marijuana manufacturing, three counts of aggravated marijuana manufacturing, one count of aggravated marijuana trafficking and six counts of filing a false document with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
He also faces a single count of engaging in a pattern of criminal offenses involving marijuana grows in Garvin, Oklahoma, Canadian, Grady, Okmulgee, Cleveland and Creek counties.
He is no longer involved in Stitt’s administration, the governor’s office said Monday.
Stacy had served on Stitt’s COVID-19 response team and became the hospital surge plan adviser. The Blanchard attorney was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Science and Innovation in January 2021. The entire council resigned in September as part of a revamp effort that is still underway, the governor’s office said.
“This is egregious and troubling,” Stitt’s campaign manager, Donelle Harder, said Monday. “And there is no question Oklahoma’s marijuana legalization referendum created far too many opportunities for fraud, which is why Governor Stitt has been working with the legislature to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to track and stop bad actors.
“It’s terrible what is unfolding from a high-ranking official in the Oklahoma National Guard, and we will be donating Lt. Colonel Stacy’s past primary contribution to charity.”
Stacy is denying wrongdoing.
His attorney, Joe White, said Stacy and his firm have been in regular communication with the narcotics bureau for three years, “discussing, debating and complying with the agency’s ever-changing interpretations of the statutes and rules that must be met for … licensure.
“They’ve been extremely transparent and adaptable based on their understanding of the law and current regulations, even when they have been in fundamental disagreement with some aspects of the agency’s interpretation and implementation of the licensing requirements.”
The defense attorney also noted that Stacy has 23 years in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and is a senior intelligence officer.
“He is the recipient of two Bronze Stars and has served multiple tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine. He believes strongly in the constitutional and statutory lawmaking process and has always worked within the bounds of the law, as it is written when advocating and representing for his clients.
“This industry and the professionals that support it have been left to operate in a regulatory environment that is inconsistent and arbitrary. Anytime Matt has taken a legal position or approach that encountered resistance he has asked for agency clarification, most times without response.”
Stacy also gave $2,900 to Attorney General John O’Connor’s campaign in February. O’Connor was seeking election to the position he was appointed to last year when Mike Hunter resigned because of an affair. O’Connor lost in the Republican primary election.
The Oklahoman reported in June that O’Connor accepted the donation even though Stacy was already under criminal investigation. At the time, O’ Connor’s assistants were helping in the investigation.
Stacey’s Bio at his website
The founding partner of Stacy Legal Group is Matt Stacy. Matt is from Bridge Creek, Oklahoma where he still resides. Having obtained a Bachelors degree in Finance from Oklahoma State University where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and played for two years on the varsity football team as tight end and linebacker. Matt attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ where he earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a focus in entrepreneurship. While at Arizona Matt was a Top 5 Venture Capital student, a member of the venture capital investment competition team, and founding member of a educational software company that won several business plan awards. Matt attended University of Oklahoma College of Law for his Juris Doctor graduating a semester early. While at OU Law he was on the Dean’s Honor Roll, founded the Oklahoma Private Equity Club, a member of the Mediation team, a member of the Federalist Society, a member of the Energy Resources Legal Society, and the author of a legal comment titled “The Legality of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Combat and Non-Combat Conflicts”.
Matt’s non-legal professional experience includes several years of consumer and business sales roles in the insurance, medical services and automotive industries. Being previously licensed to sell property, casualty, life and health insurance he has a detailed understanding of all types of insurance policies, retirement plans and employee benefit plans. Having written insurance for hundreds of businesses, from small mom and pop shops to large multi-million dollar manufacturers, he has a keen understanding of the risks businesses face and how to legally protect against those risks. Furthermore, Matt has experience determining the value of businesses from an insurance, sale, or investment perspective.
Matt is also an active financial securities and real estate investor. Having traded stocks and options independently for over twenty years and owning multiple commercial and residential properties he has a keen understanding of leveraged investing. Having funded his first real estate investment out of the proceeds from his GI Bill he understands the process and risks involved when bootstrapping a house or commercial building purchase. He can accurately advise you how to legally structure your investment and guide you through the process while putting you in touch with contacts along the way.
Matt is a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard having served for over 16 years. Currently serving at the rank of Major, Matt is the primary intelligence officer for the 45th Infantry Brigade. He has served with the 45th in deployments to Afghanistan (2003-2004), Iraq (2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2011-2012). Among other awards, he is the recipient of two Bronze Stars and the Joint Services Commendation Medal.
Having legal experience in a broad range of areas Matt primarily practices in criminal defense, personal injury, class action litigation, probate, estate planning, business valuation, business formation, contracts, family law and oil & gas. Matt is admitted to practice in all Oklahoma State Courts and the United States District Court-Western District of Oklahoma. Having a growing federal practice that includes experience in both civil and criminal federal litigation Matt is also a member of the local federal bar association mentor program and is a current applicant to be appointed as mediator for financial disputes resolved through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Having developed an extensive network of contacts he takes pride in building lasting relationships with his clients in order to better address their needs and putting them in touch with professionals to assist in areas he doesn’t practice.
Current memberships include: Oklahoma Bar Association Bench and Bar Committee, Family Law Section and Criminal Law Section, American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Oklahoma Association for Justice, American Association for Justice, Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Cleveland County Bar Association, Oklahoma County Bar Association