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Feds subpoena at least 4 Bristol County communities over marijuana contracts

Target 12

SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) – Federal investigators have issued subpoenas to multiple Bristol County communities seeking records related to the controversial agreements made between municipalities and marijuana businesses.   

A grand jury convened by the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating the so-called “community host agreements” and has issued subpoenas to at least three Bristol County municipalities, Target 12 has confirmed.

Recreational marijuana businesses, as part of the licensing process, are required to obtain the agreements from local officials in the municipalities where they hope to operate, which critics argue has created an opportunity for corruption.

Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux confirmed his city received a subpoena last week. “We’re going to comply,” he said. “We’re compiling the information right now.”  

Berkley, Fairhaven and Taunton also confirmed they have received subpoenas and are complying with the orders.

“We are aware many municipalities across the commonwealth have been subpoenaed. We are collecting the requested information and will fully comply with the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout this process,” Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye’s chief of staff, Alyssa Haggerty, wrote in an email.

Officials in four other communities where recreational marijuana licenses are pending — Freetown, New Bedford, Plainville and Seekonk — told Target 12 they have not received a subpoena.

Somerset Town Administrator Richard Brown said he would not comment on grand jury investigations.

One other Bristol County municipalities that has either pending or existing marijuana licenses — Swansea — did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The grand jury investigation, first reported by The Boston Globe, is collecting records from municipalities where the deals exist across the state.

The grand jury has requested a laundry list of records, including community host agreements, communications including emails and voicemails, applications, public meeting minutes and the names of current or former employees that have applied for marijuana licenses, according to a subpoena obtained by Target 12.

The grand jury is also seeking records of any employee that “has been retained by, employed by, or has received compensation from, any applicant.”

The subpoenas come two months after Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested and accused of trying to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana vendors.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has accused Correia of using the local agreements as a way to extort bribes.

Correia, who is already facing separate federal charges related to misleading investors, pleaded not guilty in September.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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