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Former Michigan House speaker admits he took bribes as head of state’s medical marijuana licensing board

<i>Dale G. Young/Detroit News/AP</i><br/>Rick Johnson
Dale G. Young/Detroit News/AP
Rick Johnson

By Rob Frehse, CNN

The former head of Michigan’s medical marijuana licensing board and former state House speaker admitted to taking more than $110,000 in bribes to help businesses get medical marijuana licenses, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court.

Rick Johnson, 70, agreed to plead guilty to the felony charge of accepting a bribe, admitting he acted “corruptly,” according to the agreement.

CNN has reached out to Johnson’s attorney, Nick Dondzila, for comment.

Johnson, a Republican, served as the chair of the licensing board from 2017 to 2019 and previously served as the state House speaker from 2001 to 2004, according to state records.

Johnson, and three other individuals who were charged related to the case, have agreed to cooperate with the FBI and the US attorney’s office in the investigation, according to the US attorney’s office.

“Public corruption is a poison to any democracy,” US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said in a news release. “Those who wield the power of state have a sacred obligation to serve the people they represent. But when a government official takes a bribe, they spurn that solemn duty — in favor of the connected, the crooked, and ultimately themselves.”

Johnson faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 and must repay the $110,200 that he received in cash payments and benefits, according to the plea agreement.

If Johnson fully cooperates, the US attorney’s office may file a motion to reduce his sentence, according to the plea agreement.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Holmes Lybrand and Isa Kaufman-Geballe contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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