OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The alleged owner of a chain of medical #marijuana clinics faces criminal charges in one of the first cases of its kind in the state. Prosecutors said it’s a criminal enterprise, a prescription mill generating millions of dollars, with most of the money laundered and sent overseas.
KPIX 5 went to one of the clinics 30 minutes to opening time, and things were already jumping: Car after car pulling in, people waiting in line to see a physician for a medical marijuana recommendation. They are not doing anything illegal. But according to law enforcement, the doctor is.
“It’s organized crime,” said Ralph Hughes. He’s an investigator with the Medical Board. Hughes said under California law, Dr. Bennie Brown would have to own and operate the clinic. But in this case, he said there’s evidence a group of “non-doctors” running it instead, and that’s a felony.
Suspected ringleader Michael Malenkov recently appeared in court on a slew of charges, including money laundering and unlawful practice of medicine. His attorney wouldn’t go on camera, but told KPIX 5 her client simply provides marketing services for Dr. Brown, and did nothing illegal.
But prosecutors point to documents they said show Malenkov pays the lease and the salaries of employees, including Dr. Brown, who was hired on Craigslist, and paid handsomely.