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Press Release

Oakland County Businessman Sentenced To 28 Months In Federal Prison For Paying Bribes To Rick Johnson

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that John Dawood Dalaly, 71, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 28 months in federal prison and fined $25,000 for paying bribes to Rick Vernon Johnson, the former Chairperson of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board.  Following his release from prison, Dalaly will serve two years on supervised release. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Beckering.

          “John Dalaly bribed a public official. He corrupted a process designed to give people a fair shot at entering this promising new market,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten “Now, he’ll serve time in a federal prison. Public corruption is a poison to our democracy, and we will hold offenders accountable whenever and wherever we find them.”

          Rick Johnson was a member and the Chairperson of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board (MMLB) between May 2017 and April 2019. Prior to his appointment to that Board, Johnson worked as a lobbyist in Lansing, Michigan, and served as Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives.

          John Dalaly operated two companies that were formed with the purpose of obtaining various operating licenses from the MMLB or exploring the licensing of a digital currency platform for medical marijuana financial transactions.  Dalaly admitted paying at least $68,200 in cash and other benefits (including private charter flights) to Johnson while he served as the Chair of the MMLB.  In return, Johnson voted in favor of approving the prequalification status for one of Dalaly’s companies and voted in favor of granting medical marijuana licenses to that company.  Johnson also provided valuable non-public information about the anticipated rules and operation of the MMLB and assistance with license application matters to Dalaly and others who paid him money.

          “The corrupt activities uncovered in this case were facilitated by men whose desire for favorable treatment outweighed notions of integrity and fair play,” said Devin J. Kowalski, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Public corruption is the FBI's top criminal investigative priority and anyone who seeks to influence public officials through bribery will be thoroughly investigated.”

          Rick Johnson’s sentencing for accepting bribes is scheduled for Thursday, September 28, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. in Grand Rapids before U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering. U.S. Attorney Mark Totten is scheduled to attend Johnson’s sentencing hearing and provide comments outside immediately following.

          On Wednesday, October 18, 2023, sentencing hearings have been scheduled for Brian Pierce at 11 a.m. and Vince Brown at 1:30 p.m. in Grand Rapids before U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering.

          Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher O’Connor and Clay Stiffler are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.


Updated September 14, 2023

Public Corruption