Feds: 3 bribed Garden City officials for pot dispensary

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Three men have been indicted on accusations of bribing Garden City officials in an effort to be allowed to open a marijuana dispensary, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Jalal Baydoun, 38, Ali Baydoun, 52, and Mike Baydoun, 54, of Dearborn Heights are accused of bribing the mayor of Garden City, its police chief, and three city council members in the hopes of being given permission to open a medical marijuana dispensary within city limits. Mike and Ali are brothers and Jalal is a nephew.

The three face one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, and one count of bribery, aiding and abetting in regard to a federal program.

The feds say on Dec. 2, the trio delivered an envelope with $15,000 cash — which was construed as a $5,000 bribe for each of the three Garden City City Council members whose votes were being sought.

The alleged scheme ran from September to December, the feds say. It all allegedly started when the trio decided to seek city permission to create a dispensary on Ford Road and a pot-growing facility in the area of Ford Road and Hubbard.

Garden City allows for only two such facilities, and already had two. The only way room could be made for a third is if Garden City council members amended existing ordinances.

Over the four-month period, the trio are accused of offering cash or a percentage of dispensary earnings to city officials, along with setting up a $150,000 escrow account as a “good faith” measure indicating a willingness to pay out future bribes.

A federal indictment unsealed this week also alleges the trio had agreed to set aside the $150,000 in the escrow account to pay additional bribes to two Garden City officials and “unknown state of Michigan officials” in order to obtain a state permit to grow 1,500 marijuana plants in the city.

The feds are looking to seize what’s left of that $150,000, which is around $130,000, prosecutors said.

Michigan legislators approved a new medical marijuana licensing law in late 2016. The state is working to finalize a regulatory framework by the end of 2017.