Former Leader in Attempt to Unionize Cannabis Workers in the Emerald Triangle Sentenced for Money Laundering and Kickbacks

Dan Rush, former head of the cannabis workers division of United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW International), was sentenced yesterday in federal court after pleading guilty 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 and his sentencing.

Press release from the California Department of Justice: 

Dan Rush image taken from video by ASA

Image of Dan Rush taken from video by Americans for Safe Access.

Daniel Rush was sentenced yesterday afternoon to 37 months in prison for breaching his fiduciary duties to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and participating in a money laundering scheme, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., U.S. District Judge, following Rush’s guilty pleas on June 22, 2017.

Rush pleaded guilty to one count of receiving an illegal payment as a union employee, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 186(b)(1); one count of honest services wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1346; and one count of conspiracy to commit structuring and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.

According to his plea agreement, between 2010 and 2015, Rush engaged in a series of schemes to enrich himself in violation of federal law and his fiduciary duties:

  • In 2010, he conspired with attorney Marc L. TerBeek and others to structure approximately $420,000 in illegal drug proceeds into the banking system.  Although the money was a loan from someone in the cannabis industry, Rush deliberately mischaracterized monthly interest payments as consulting fees.
  • While serving as the Organizing Coordinator for the unofficial cannabis division at UFCW, Rush gave an employer a corrupted neutrality agreement in exchange for personal loan forgiveness.  He also accepted kickbacks from TerBeek in exchange for referring cannabis businesses he encountered in his union role to TerBeek’s law practice.
  • Rush abused his position as Executive Treasurer and Board Member at the Instituto de la Raza Laboral (Instituto) in similar fashion by demanding and accepting remuneration  from TerBeek in exchange for establishing TerBeek as an approved legal provider for workers’ compensation cases at the Insituto.
  • Finally, Rush engaged in corrupt conduct as a Commissioner on the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Commission when he attempted to extort a business that had applied for a dispensary permit.  Using TerBeek as an intermediary, Rush communicated that if the applicant did not offer him a salaried job, with benefits, he would take adverse action against its application.

In sentencing Rush, Judge Gilliam commented that “the case reflects large-scale, long-lasting corruption on the defendant’s part.”

In addition to the prison term, the Court also sentenced the Rush to a three-year term of supervised release and ordered him to pay a fine of $7500.  Rush’s coconspirator, attorney Marc L. TerBeek pleaded guilty on February 16, 2017, to one count of making an illegal payment to a union employee, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 186(a) and one count of willfully violating an anti-structuring regulation, in violation of 12 U.S.C. § 1956.  Judge Gilliam scheduled TerBeek’s sentencing hearing for November 27, 2017.

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

Further Information:

Case #: CR 15-0454 HSG (Rush)

CR 17-0087 HSG (TerBeek)

A copy of this press release will be placed on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.

Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Abraham Simmons at (415) 436-7264 or by e-mail at Abraham.Simmons@usdoj.gov.

Earlier Chapter: 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

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29 comments

  • Weed=Crime

  • A member of the audience at the Dolores Huerta HSU speaking event last night plaintively asked for advice about cannabis worker unionizing, citing the industry’s problems with human trafficking, exposure to toxic substances, and wage rip-offs. Huerta suggested that the UFCW would be the appropriate umbrella union to work with. However, with the likes of this guy involved, it may be a repeat of the not-so-benevolent hegemony of the Teamsters over the United Farm Workers.

    • exactly, fox in the henhouse

    • Hmm.. the fox is playing chicken little?

      “The sky is falling!”
      nope, just another bum with his hand out.
      I still feel some of your concerns are simply oft repeated, but unsubstantiated, at least as far as the scope. it would be innaccurate to say these are common. Most growers don’t want drama, most are in stable relationships, most pay for work they’ve commissioned. It gets worse when you throw in get rich quick scheamers, with little connection to the community. But that would be a problem with any industry coming to town…logging, mining, even FEMA workers after a disaster. It appears that the movie industry, long accepted as ‘legit’ is rife with these types of abuses. People like this guy profited from hyping these concerns to gain interest from the unions, and politicians, and to peddle his hype for speaker fees.

  • So getting $500,000 and paying a $7500 fine? Wait 2 years or so and keep on getting on? Stoked on the interest for 2 yrs off 1/2mil. Maybe his lawyer got $300k or so? Still not too bad when you get out. Hard to spend $ in the pen.

    • i don’t give a fuck about dan’s side, he pled out and was guilty of much more than he was convicted of, spare me

    • Thanks for posting his side of the story. His story is all too familiar and common place anymore.
      There is one part of his story that took my memory bank back to Venezuela and the take down of a police woman whose program successfully saved kids.
      Other parts are reminiscent of events past and present in America.
      I hope his jury is provided all evidence and that nothing is hidden or swayed.

  • so sick of corrupt union bosses shaking down people, creep. and the attorney? u shame your family, profession, and community, way to go a-hole

  • So glad we got “legalized”. Now everybody can get beaten down and ripped off by the REAL criminals- the ones wearing suits and carrying briefcases. Yay for us and our “freedom”!!

    • Yepper. But still feel we needed to stop having the kids hold our secrets. The suited criminals’ kids get to have their friends over. But the farce remains strong. LoL.

  • Imagine that, marijuana growers, their compadres in crime and others involved in dope are crooks, liars, thieves and not to be trusted.

    Who knew?

  • wait till SEIU shows up for their fair share. THEY CANT WAIT TO GET SUM CANNIBIS AND THE MONEY.

  • If it wasnt for the last charge of threatening legal action unless he got regular kickbacks, one could argue he was legit. Prior to very recently, the only way to exchange money from growers was patently illegal. Technically, the county launders money from growers in the form of taxes and fees (fees being no different than taxes more often than not.) And refering growers to competent and enthusiastic legal support might not be bad if the legal support is in fact competent and enthusiastic. But do-or-die blackmail is not cool.

    • Night at the Foxy

      Like:
      “here pay these fees and we’ll approve your permit… oh not done getting your shit together? well we’re overwhelmed with the rules we created so here’s conditional approval… so you can go ahead and pay some of the taxes for this year…Oh you think this is a scam… well here’s a cease and desist order…. $10,000 a day…oh and watch out for marijuana smokers ripping you off because they are criminals”

  • 🤑😳🤣

  • It’s all beyond me .the guy actually thought he was going to unionize pot workers wtf like I said it’s beyond me .That idea would never work not around here anyway.

    • looking for trouble in paradise

      Because 99.9 percent of the workers don’t have it so bad. Maybe most get paid, maybe most have not been assaulted, maybe most are here on their own accord, maybe most recognize that they can earn an income without all the bullshit endured in a “legitimate” career.

    • Exactly Mogtx! Anarchists abound in Humboldt! 🙂

  • Conservative Stupidity

    Useful pawns for the rich hate unions.

  • It seems to me that the culture of Humboldt pot growers/workers does not lend itself to hierarchical organization of any kind – yet. Usually this is how the structure of a union is organized. Humboldt pot culture is fascinating – and appears to me to be more anarchist.

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