Feds say medical marijuana dealer mulled bribes in Montana
January 10, 2012
Federal agents claim in inadvertently released court documents that a former University of Montana quarterback caught up in a medical marijuana raid contemplated bribing police and politicians.
But Jason Washington of Missoula told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday that the allegation is “ridiculous” and blown out of proportion by agents overhearing a running joke among friends.
Drug Enforcement Agency agents said they were monitoring Washington’s communications before raiding his and two other medical marijuana businesses in November, a multi-month investigation into what the agents called the “Washington Drug Trafficking Organization.”
The U.S. attorney office wouldn’t offer comment on the allegations, saying the court documents would be resealed by the court. The affidavit details the investigation against Washington, including where he purchased and sold marijuana and for how much.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana has learned that search warrant affidavits related to an ongoing investigation of drug distribution in the Missoula area were inadvertently unsealed today,” said U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Jessica Fehr. “The U.S. attorney’s office will have no comment on the information contained within the mistakenly released affidavits.”
The monitored communications detailed in the affidavit appear to show people naive about the political process, although a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency told the court he believed Washington and an associate would “use the proceeds of illegal marijuana sales to bribe public officials.”
The affidavit against Washington gives no indication that he ever attempted the scheme.
The affidavit said Washington and Gregory Zuckert discussed bribing local and federal law enforcement as a way of getting tipped off before any raids. It also said they discussed bribes to state politicians, including the attorney general, as a way of to get laws favorable to the industry.
In an expletive-laden conversation monitored by agents, Washington and Zuckert said they needed to “grease” the wheels if they wanted new medical marijuana laws. They contemplated talking to a well-known medical marijuana advocate to see if she knew of a way to be tipped off in advance of a raid, and considered if a Missoula County Sheriff’s detective “would take the grease.”
Washington, who has not yet been arrested in the case although assets and equipment related to his medical marijuana business have been seized, said he has subsequently discussed the bribery allegation in the case with federal agents and told them it was a joke.
“The people we were speaking about, look at them, it was a joke. It was funny when it come out,” Washington said. “All this will come out in trial.”
Washington, who said he was out of state meeting with a lawyer, said he is restricted in discussing the case while the possibility of criminal charges loom.
Federal agents seized more than $184,000 from bank accounts associated with Washington’s medical marijuana and automotive businesses, according to previous inventories filed in U.S. District Court, along with firearms, records and other materials.
But Washington said Tuesday that agents have subsequently returned some items that clearly belong to 406 Motoring Automotive Specialists, the customization business.
“406 motoring was not involved. That business is still running,” Washington said. “406 motoring is up and well, and doing great.”
Washington started five games for the Grizzlies in 2005 before being injured. He was kicked off the team in 2007 for reasons former Coach Bobby Hauck never disclosed.
The public officials that Washington and Zuckert discussed said they were never contacted by the medical marijuana sellers.
“Attorney General Bullock doesn’t know and has never met or talked to these individuals, and that a drug dealer would even fantasize or talk about trying to bribe our top law enforcement official underscores just how desperate criminals can become,” Bullock spokeswoman Judy Beck said.
State Sen. Dave Lewis, R-Helena, said he was “astounded” to hear the pair discussed ways to bribe him. Lewis said his support last year for tougher marijuana laws in the Legislature has resulted in threatening phone calls that have prompted him to disconnect his phone.