Black and white photograph of the Berkeley, California sprawl.

Luca Sartoni

Former Berkeley, California MMJ Commissioner Sentenced to Prison for Fraud, Corruption

The former chair of the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Commission, Daniel Rush, has been sentenced to 37 months in prison for money laundering and fraud that occurred between 2010 and 2015. Rush also served as an organizing coordinator for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union’s unofficial cannabis division.

The sentence, which also includes three years of supervised release and a $7,500 fine, is part of a deal which Rush pleaded guilty to one count of receiving an illegal payment as a union employee, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit structure and money laundering.

Investigators found that Rush, as commissioner of the BMCC, had attempted to extort at least one businesses seeking a dispensary permit and through his attorney, Marc L. TerBeek, communicated “that if the applicant did not offer him a salaried job, with benefits, he would take adverse action against its application,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern California.

While serving as a coordinator for the UFCW, Rush accepted kickbacks from TerBeek in exchange for referring cannabis businesses that he encountered in that role to the attorney’s practice.

Rush also “deliberately” mischaracterized a $420,000 loan from “someone in the cannabis industry” as monthly payments for consulting services and attempted to “structure” the money into the banking system.

Rush pleaded guilty to the charges on June 22.

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