Medical marijuana prescription vials are filled at a dispensary in Venice, Calif., in 2013. (Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press file)

California union official indicted over alleged pot dispensary kickbacks

OAKLAND, Calif. — A local union official and pot shop broker was indicted by the feds on allegations of bribery and labor fraud.

Dan Rush, a director of the marijuana division of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, was charged in U.S. District Court with fraud and labor violations, according to a criminal complaint filed Aug. 10.

Authorities said Rush borrowed $600,000 from Martin Kaufman, a dispensary operator affiliated with BLUM in Oakland, but was unable to repay the loan.

Instead, Rush began working with real estate and workers’ compensation attorney Marc Terbeek to allegedly offer union support and ease restrictions for Kaufman’s dispensaries — undermining his own union’s interest in expanding labor protections for dispensary employees in a newly legal trade, according to the criminal complaint.

“To be clear, Mr. Rush has been terminated. The UFCW holds all of its employees to the highest standards, and we expect that they perform their responsibilities with integrity and honor. What Mr. Rush has been accused of is not only shocking to us, it is a betrayal for what we at the UFCW stand for,” a spokesman for the union wrote in a statement.

“Going forward, the UFCW will undertake a full review of Rush’s activities to determine if any worker or their family were adversely affected by his activities and if so take appropriate corrective action.”

Terbeek has since retained attorney Edward Swanson, a local lawyer most recently in the news for authoring a report for Oakland police’s federal monitor about the city’s failings to hold problem police accountable during arbitration cases.

The indictment of Rush seems to be the only the beginning in the feds’ latest crackdown on Oakland’s blossoming medical pot industry. The complaint said Terbeek was notified of his likely prosecution by the government. Terbeek said Friday he couldn’t comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Kaufman, who has been working with the FBI since 2013, did not return a message left at BLUM. The feds say Kaufman recorded conversations for their investigation.

A call to a phone number listed for Rush, which has a “420” prefix, was not returned.

Criminal complaint

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