OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office will take over the prosecution of a Canadian County attorney accused of helping criminal organizations obtain marijuana grows in the state.
“He was in a position of authority and power and influence. And those are the people that we need to make an example of perfect,” said Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond.
AG Drummond announced Thursday that he’s taking over prosecution in the case of Canadian County Attorney Matt Stacy. The 43-year-old was indicted last year by a multi-county grand jury and charged with 13 counts in Garvin County.
Court documents said he helped international criminal organizations supply the black market with marijuana by illegally getting them into the medical marijuana business in Oklahoma.
“His impact on the state of Oklahoma is remarkable. He’s basically been the consigliere to almost 400 illegal row operations, which covers multiple counties,” said AG Drummond. “He needs the full force of the law against him, and his participation is not just been the enabling, but he is actually culpable of the crimes that were committed by his clients.”
Court documents show Stacy did this by paying Oklahomans to sign on as a “ghost” or “straw owner.” The process is an illegal way to get around state laws that say an Oklahoman must own 75-percent of a marijuana grow operation. The other 25-percent owner can be from out-of-state.
“These people are just as guilty as the criminal organizations that are now using those licenses,” said Mark Woodward with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Drug agents said that’s where criminal organizations come in and mask the true ownership, which can be a challenge to prove.
“They know who they’re dealing with. And I don’t think they care. I think it’s about money,” said Woodward.
On Tuesday, AG Drummond sent a letter to DA Greg Mashburn saying his office will take over prosecution.
The Oklahoma Bar Association told News 4 Stacy is still practicing law and “is in good standing.” The association said it monitors and follows any cases against attorneys.
“It is always concerning when an Oklahoma licensed attorney is charged with a crime,” said Lori Rasmussen, the Director of Communications for the Bar Association.
Stacy’s attorney, Joe White, was unable to speak on camera today but provided News 4 with the following statement:
On behalf of our clients whose operations fall under the medical marijuana laws and regulations, our firm was in regular communication with the OBNDD for three years discussing the agency’s ever-changing interpretations of the statutes and rules that must be met for OBNDD licensure. We have been and will continue to be extremely transparent and adaptable based on our understanding of the law and current regulations, even when we are in fundamental disagreement with some aspects of the agency’s interpretation and implementation of the licensing requirements.
We believe strongly in the Constitutional and statutory lawmaking process. We have always worked within the bounds of the law, as it is written when advocating and representing our clients. This industry and the professionals that support it have been left to operate in a regulatory environment that is inconsistent and arbitrary. Anytime we have taken a legal position or approach that encountered resistance we have asked for agency clarification, most times without response. Nonetheless, we have been and will continue to be transparent in all our interactions with Oklahoma’s medical marijuana regulatory agenciesJoe White
The AG told News 4 he’s aware others in similar criminal activity will be watching and reading this story. He has a message for them.
“The time is up. They need to move to Arkansas, Texas, Kansas. I know if you’re aware, but get out of our state because this attorney general is going to use his best efforts for the next 203 weeks to set a standard,” he said.