Former Leader in Attempt to Unionize Cannabis Workers in the Emerald Triangle Pled Guilty Yesterday to Taking Money From Businesses He Was Trying to Organize

Dan Rush, former head of the cannabis workers division of United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW International), pled guilty in federal court yesterday to charges stemming from taking a $500,000 loan from a marijuana grower. While he was attempting to organize marijuana workers, he referred marijuana business owners to the attorney who facilitated the illegal loan.

Rush, who now lives in Crescent City, helped further the normalization of marijuana when he championed the cause of cannabis workers. Below is a video of him speaking at an Americans for Safe Access event. Below that is the press release from the Department of Justice which goes into details about the crime.

Press release from the US Attorney’s Office:

Daniel J. Rush pleaded guilty in federal court [yesterday] to three felony counts: receiving an illegal payment as a union employee; honest services fraud; and conspiracy to commit structuring and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The plea was accepted by the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., U.S. District Judge.

In pleading guilty, Rush, 56, of Crescent City, Calif. (formerly of Oakland, Calif.), admitted that between 2011 and 2015 he was employed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW International) as the Organizing Coordinator for the unofficial medical cannabis and hemp division.  Rush had fiduciary duties to the UFCW International, and the UFCW International constitution prohibited him from accepting dual compensation or expenses related to the performance of his duties.  Notwithstanding these fiduciary duties, in today’s plea agreement, Rush admitted he violated the Taft-Hartley Act when he accepted compensation from employees in, or potentially in, a labor organization.  Rush also admitted he committed honest services wire fraud with the intent to deprive the UFCW of its right to his honest services and he conspired with attorney Marc TerBeek, 50, of Berkeley, Calif., to launder money and to evade reporting requirements in an effort to conceal the source of the money.  TerBeek pleaded guilty in February 2017 to making illegal payments to Rush in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act and to violating anti-structuring regulations.

According to Rush’s plea agreement, in January 2010, a marijuana entrepreneur loaned Rush $500,000 in cash, ostensibly to be used to develop pieces of real property under Rush’s control.  Rush promised to pay the entrepreneur $3,000 in interest per month for 5 years and then pay the balance in a lump sum in January 2015.  Rush knew that the money he borrowed had been earned in connection with illegal marijuana cultivation activities and that therefore the money was the proceeds of unlawful activity.  Rush acknowledged that he and TerBeek conspired to structure the loan proceeds into the banking system and they further agreed to falsely characterize the $3,000 per month payments as consulting fees.

In January and February 2010, TerBeek made a series of deposits of less than $10,000 at Wells Fargo and Bank of America branches.  Once TerBeek had deposited sufficient funds, he paid off a $420,000 note on a property owned by Rush.

TerBeek also began making the $3,000 monthly payments to the marijuana entrepreneur on Rush’s behalf.  In exchange for these payments and other compensation from TerBeek, Rush referred medical marijuana employers to TerBeek.  Terbeek provided assist to the employers regarding compliance and licensing.  The clients included owners of businesses in the marijuana industry that Rush was purporting to attempt to organize for the UFCW.  Rush did not disclose to the clients or the UFCW that he was receiving significant sums of money from TerBeek.  This kickback scheme violated Rush’s duty to provide his honest services to the UFCW.

By 2014, the individual who loaned money to Rush in 2010 was an employer in the medical marijuana industry that Rush was trying to unionize.  Rush used his position in the UFCW to make official recommendations to government entities for the individual’s marijuana business and accepted at least $250,000 of debt forgiveness from the individual.
The FBI’s investigation began with a tip from a medical marijuana dispensary owner regarding Rush’s activities.       

A federal grand jury indicted Rush on September 17, 2015.  He was charged with 15 felony counts, including one Taft-Hartley violation under 29 U.S.C. § 186(b)(1); ten counts of honest services fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, and 1346; attempted extortion under color of law, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951; conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; and money laundering by concealment, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii).  Under the plea agreement, Rush pleaded guilty to the Taft-Hartley violation, one count of honest services fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit structuring and money laundering.

For his part in the scheme, on February 15, 2017, TerBeek was charged by information with one count of making a payment to a union employee, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 186(a), and one count of willful violation of anti-structuring regulations, in violation of 12 U.S.C. § 1956.  He pleaded guilty to both counts on February 16, 2017.  TerBeek is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Gilliam on August 21, 2017.

Rush is currently on release on a $100,000 bond.  Judge Gilliam scheduled his sentencing hearing for October 2, 2017.  The maximum statutory penalty for the Taft-Hartley violation is 5 years’ imprisonment and a $15,000 fine; the maximum statutory penalty for the honest services fraud count is 20 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine; and the maximum statutory penalty for the conspiracy is 5 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division.

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39 comments

  • Not Good! This reinforces my distrust of unions, and their leadership.

    • Veterans friend

      You are so foolish. Go back to school, please.

    • Don’t blame the union for this asshole.

      I work at a union shop and after seeing the difference, I cannot imagine not having a union. Jerks like Rush tend to make unions look bad, even though he was using his position at the union to fuck over the very workers he pledged to help. Then, the story becomes “the union is bad” when the story is this guy was a jerk, he would have done some other shady shit if he owned a dispensary, and then folks would (also wrongly) be saying “see, the medical industry is just bullshit!” – you all know that’s true, because whenever an unscrupulous dispensary operator gets raided the public says that kind of bull shit about not wanting them around.

      I for one want more unions, because I like having a skilled job – being a bud-tender is a skill, beyond just helping people which itself is not easy, I know a lot about gonja from history to technique – I have a job that is union that allows me to take care of my family, to have a retirement, to get good pay, buy a decent house, so on.

      That isn’t because the industry is growing, trust me, if we didn’t unionize, all that money that goes to my retirement, pay, and benefits would be for profits, not workers – just as any growth would.

      Unions aren’t even close to being obsolete, quite the contrary, at this point in time with the medical industry and recreational industry about to take off, they are more needed than ever before.

      Take care friends.

      • Your right on the money!

      • Thanks for that thoughtful response. Nothing identifies the “Jews-4-Hitler” crowd like the anti-union, anti-worker, anti-Americans who come out against unions with lies and mob-fiction from the 1930’s. The virulent anti-union shills are good at convincing, low-information thinkers that unions took away American jobs. Just one of many lies they use. Off-shoring to take advantage of slave-wages took a lot of jobs. Hell, the federal government was offering tax-incentives to manufacturing industries to move to China. But hey, let’s blame workers. It’s a sad thing these days to hear people fight tooth-n-nail for their own disenfranchisement, and the disenfranchisement of their children.
        We’ve lost a lot of what we gained through collective bargaining. And we’ve always had those who were weak and easily led who worked on behalf of the management against their own neighbors. Now we have people living on Social Security who have voted in a whole regime of thieves whose first order of business is to loot the national treasury, and literally make destitute those misled, frightened cowards who put them in their positions of power.
        Not sure how it’s going to end up. I’ll continue to fight for my union. The Anti-Americans call anything with “public” in its name; socialism. And to be in a union is to be a communist in their book. I guess they won’t be happy until their children have to take a second job to send their kids to elementary school, while it takes 2 month’s wages to pay 1 month’s rent. They support some billionaire they’ll never meet, to the utter destruction of their families and neighbors, who are actually a part of their daily lives.
        Sorry, I digress.

      • Thank you for your comments.

        My distrust of unions stems from my own experiences. I have been a member of the union, since shortly after it was formed, more than 30 years ago.

        At one point, both myself and many others experienced misrepresentation by the union. Our wages were cut. When we questioned the union as to why this had happened we were told to wait, that everything was being negotiated with our employer, and would be resolved shortly. After about two years with no resolution, and others receiving a pay increase, we felt we were not being represented properly by the union.

        We decided that we needed to seek a more effective solution. So approximately 500 of us joined together and filed a class-action lawsuit. This started a long, drawn-out process involving two Superior Courts, the Court of Appeals and the California State Supreme Court.

        Approximately 95% of us did finally receive the pay increase we sought. But this took a lot of time and resources to accomplish. And we would never have needed to pursue this action, if the union had represented us properly in the first place.

        Testimony made and documents produced during the legal process showed just what a poor job the union had done. The union had been negligent in representing us, deceptive in their dealings with us, and lied about the content of their communications with our employer. I remember in particular, that it left the judges in the Appellate Court shaking their heads. So that is why I have developed a distrust of unions.

        I was especially disappointed because I had been a union steward, and an original member and supporter of the union for more than 30 years. I had put my full faith and trust in the union, and I felt let down when the truth came out.

        I also know unions have the potential to do a lot of good for the worker. And overall, the benefits of my union membership have out weighed the negative aspects, over the years.

  • Read the post! The Union was the victim! And Rush was dumb, dumb, dumb.

    • “Rush pleaded guilty to the Taft-Hartley violation, one count of honest services fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit structuring and money laundering.”

      Most crooks that get caught are dumb.

    • That’s 100% right. Like I said in my earlier comment. I work at a union shop, and I’ve worked at non-union gigs. The difference is amazing. This jerk looked out for himself and did so through the union and at workers and the union’s expense.

      Without unions this industry is going to be like fast-food – with a few people making a ton of money while workers get the shaft. And that isn’t how it has to be.

  • Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.

    There you go…

    Weed of peace, healing the planet, and the sick.

    This song comes to mind-

    https://youtu.be/JQYJRw4R4-Q

    • You are scared to death of anything you don’t do, and it shows in your lunatic rantings. [edit]

      • Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.

        You simply miss the point, as well as the reason behind the message.

        Psychic spies from China, try to steal your mind’s elation…

        Destruction leads to a very rough road, but it also breeds creation…

        Pay your surgeon very well to break the spell of aging…

        Same story, over and over-

        This revolution has long been over…plus it’s on television and that should tell you something.

        Born and raised by those who praise, control the population.
        Everyone has been there and I don’t mean on vacation..

        Can anyone explain how freeing weed into a box with a string and rope on it, actually helps anything?

        I’d rather be selling grilled cheese 35 years ago with hope for the future than seeing open septic pits of today….

        I know this hits home to some.

        • Triniboldticino

          Funniest thing I’ve read all day. Especially “I know this hits home.” WTF does that even MEAN? Made me chuckle. You are a loon, no doubt.

        • Yes maybe you should credit rhcp with those lyrycs insteaf of acting like you actually come up with anything troll. Lonely lonely troll

        • “Psychic spies from China, try to steal your mind’s elation…”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0zkSAYz7R4

        • I was gonna say you should credit Confucius. I know that’s him talking about the surgeon. Dude, there’s no “revolution.” Even the “Revolution” they taught you about in the 1770’s was more like Bill Gates walking off with IBM’s intellectual property, than it was anything involving the common man’s good. The last revolution was the communists in Cuba. And that didn’t end up helping the common man much either. I suppose if you were a party-member you could do alright. My Cuban friends are all refugees, so I’m probably getting a biased report.
          Anyway, you’re strange, don’t change.
          Have a nice walk.

        • Lovin’ you bridge chump 🙂

          Funny how only the crazy ones seem to get the bigger picture…or maybe the bigger picture makes you seem crazy to those who can’t see 😉

  • One down a trillion more to go.
    Legalizing instead of decriminalizing was a crock of crookery from the start.
    Colorado has an interesting plan to halt their crookery.
    https://fee.org/articles/colorado-challenges-police-to-serve-and-protect-not-fine-and-collect/

  • Shocking!……..NOT!…many more to come!……certain stupervisors come to mind.

  • Pot growing today = Big Business as usual.

  • Ha like it wasnt criminal before.. the pot industry is 99% scumbags

    • JustWantToHearTheEndoftheStory

      So true. They can shave, put their hair up in man buns, and wear suits, but they are still greedy grubbers, always will be.

      • JustWantToHearTheEndoftheStory

        Do spell your insults correctly, Sparklemahn. It’s Peabrain, not pebrain. And just what does “not intelligent enough to distinguish” refer to? Try to think before posting, I know it’s hard, but do try, dear.

      • Sounds like jealousy

  • Unions truly suck but if employers were less corrupt, unions would not exist…

    Unions are notoriously corrupt as well!

    • Where do you think we would be in the USA if we had no unions, ever? Answer: A LOT worse off!
      Yes, excesses have occurred. Power corrupts. But it is a very broad generalization to smear all unions with the same brush. I belong to a union, am not a (Rah Rah!) ‘union man’, and I know my union is NOT corrupt.

  • Lake County Not So Bad

    I am waiting with bated breath, the name of this mysterious, as of yet unnamed but frequently referenced, marijuana grower with money to burn.

  • First, I do not condemn or am I down on the pot business. It can be done is a responsible way, with plenty rewards to be reaped.
    Yet. After watching the marijuana business closely for 35 years, I find that there are now more greedy people, often mascaraing as ‘conscious’ farmers. All along money has almost always usurped peoples’ values; people have sold out to greed, in large and small ways. It is though, an opportunity for spiritual learning.
    This guy shows that the greed exists at all levels, and an old adage is again true: ‘Buyer (or maybe Grower) beware’!

  • Teachers unions are the worst they are flat out evil I would love to see the public school system privatized it could be run so much better just like the post office the government can do nothing efficiently

    • Yeah right. It works so well in Africa. Only those who can afford it receive any education. The rest have no options but to serve the wealthy land-owners.
      You’re basically shilling for slavery.
      But hey, you already knew that.

  • Federal charges of money laundering?!! Yes!! And more please!! May I suggest Emerald Scamily Farm, Charley Tropodi and how about grab up any of these sleazy tax accountant firms around here? Squeeze and bust and they will surrender huge funds and name more names. Get these sleazebags who ruined our county!

  • Corruption from a union leader??? Nooo. That never happens.

  • This is a huge setback for the industry and the workers that make everything happen in the gonja world. This Dan Rush utterly gave up caring about workers and was only looking out for himself.

    The damage to the organizing efforts of people like me (I work at a union medical shop) is bad, but not irreparable. The medical, recreational, and even sub-altern markets NEED unions – because this is an industry that makes mad money, and when fucking wall-street rolls in more with it’s BIG private equity dollars and VC cash – if we don’t unionize from farm-to-consumer, it will be just another fast-food like industry. Where there are shitty jobs with no benefits, low pay, and abuses all over the place, all while a few grow incredibly rich.

    I condemn this guy, because my shop is UFCW and we all know what a douche this guy was to take care of himself at me and my family’s expense. But all this talk about “OH yeah, totally like unions to be corrupt!?” WE need to cut that bullshit out, because 1) it isn’t true, and when someone like this appears we need to make sure it gets taken care of and 2) unions are just about the only way we have for folks like me to actually benefit from the growth of this industry.

    We need to rid unions of chumps like Rush, and have folks organize unions with WORKERS being the main voice, that’s what we do at my shop, and if we didn’t you bet your ass the owners would pay us less, we wouldn’t have a retirement, we wouldn’t have a voice on the job – bottom line, Marijuana industry jobs can be careers where people from harvesters to trimmers to drivers to candy-makers to dispensary workers have middle-class lives. The ONLY way that has EVER happened in history is through the workers coming together with unions.

    So, fuck this guy, I am glad it’s over, but lets fucking organize before it’s too late!

    • In the old-days, the FBI working on behalf of the factory owners would infiltrate the unions with their provocateurs, and in many cases the FBI plants would rise up through the ranks and commit all kinds of shady BS, and of course the Feds knew it before it happened, and they’d feed the owners information, so there would be scandals and investigations.
      None of these Anti-Americans read. They don’t know US history. They just spout BS they hear on BS media, from behind their anonymous BS profiles.
      Once the fighting starts, they’ll come out against their neighbors on behalf of some distant billionaires they worship. Of course it’ll be anonymously.
      One positive result of recent events has been the “outing” of people’s character in our societies. Sure, they’re anonymous on the blogs, but they’re not anonymous at the gas station when they yell at Native Americans to “…go back where you came from!” It’s almost funny, but not quite.

  • This is not the first and surely won’t be the last. This grower must be sweating this one out. FBI and IRS, what kind of trouble is the guy in? The usual, none?

  • Drugs. Why would anyone believe any aspect, or anyone involved in the DRUG trade would be legit, honorable, or a positive element of society. Drugs, greed, crime. The three are inseparable.

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