Lohud.com reports…..A lawyer has accused state investigators of witness intimidation and evidence manipulation in the court battle threatening medical marijuana laws in New York and Minnesota.
Connected to the White Plains-based Vireo Health dispensary, attorney Paul Engh’s bombshell claims came during the Minnesota court case involving allegations of medical marijuana being sold illegally in New York.
Engh is trying to have the case tossed against former Vireo Health officers Dr. Laura Bultman and Ronald Owens, who face felony charges for allegedly smuggling $500,000 worth of marijuana-based drugs from Minnesota to New York.
The high-stakes case has implications for the cannabis industry. It exposed potential holes in government efforts to prevent medical marijuana from crossing state borders, which increases the threat of federal Drug Enforcement Administration raids on companies licensed by state laws.
Disputing Engh’s claims, lead prosecutor Shane Simonds asserted a string of incriminating emails, company records and a whistle-blower’s testimony led to the charges against Bultman and Owens, court records show.
The business ties between Minnesota Medical Solutions, or MMS, and Vireo Health of New York were also key, Simonds said, because Bultman and Owens allegedly smuggled Minnesota-made cannabis oil in the company’s armored vehicle to save Vireo Health’s business from failing in New York.
“There was a motive for the defendants to take concentrated cannabis oils…the companies were financially connected,” Simonds said. “Additionally, defendants Owens and Bultman were investors in MMS.”
Minnesota Medical Solutions and Vireo Health of New York are affiliated under the parent company Vireo Health, court records show.
Court documents filed recently focused on how investigators interviewed witnesses and obtained Vireo Health records.
Engh is representing Bultman, Vireo’s former chief medical officer. He asserted Minnesota law enforcement improperly contacted witnesses without notifying lawyers and obtained information related to the case.
“We are aware of several witnesses who were intimidated in this fashion,” Engh said. He also asserted prosecutors included inaccurate data in court records to convince the judge to allow the case to proceed.
Further, Engh seemed to attack the credibility of the whistleblower, Daniel Pella, the company’s former chief scientific officer.
Engh’s implied Pella was a disgruntled former Vireo Health employee who struck an immunity deal with prosecutors.
Referring to Pella’s firing, Engh said in court records: “Mr. Pella indicated to his former employees that the company would ‘pay’ for his termination, and that he would ‘take this company down.’”
Engh noted Pella apparently vandalized company equipment when he was fired. The company called authorities, but Pella wasn’t charged for the apparent crime, Engh said, citing the disconnect to request prosecutors release further details about the situation.
Addressing the issue in court, Simonds disputed many of Engh’s claims and asked the court to proceed to trial.
Simonds and Engh didn’t return requests for comment. The next court date is scheduled for March.