Building Inspector Charged With Bribery and Theft Told Some Victims He Could Sell Their Legal Pounds Through His Cannabis Collective
On Tuesday, a Humboldt County Planning and Building inspector, Patrick Mctigue, was arrested and charged with defrauding multiple victims. Two of the victims (they both wish to remain anonymous) spoke to us about their experiences.
Both the men had known Mctigue before he was hired in September of 2015 by the Humboldt County Planning Department. They said they both trusted him at first because he was Humboldt County native, a former kids’ football coach, and he seemed willing to work with them. He also told them he was opening a cannabis collective in Sacramento, Simply Humboldt Grown.
One of the victims, a businessman/farmer born in Southern Humboldt, explained that Mctigue seemed like “he was the cool guy…He was on our side.” The man explained that Mctigue seemed willing to cut through red tape and be helpful though money didn’t change hands at first.
Both men said that people trying to enter the legal cannabis world are struggling and trying to find a way to survive. “We are all so vulnerable trying to get our permits,” said the other victim, a Humboldt County legal cannabis farmer.
“He [said he] would move all my legal product [through his cannabis collective],” the farmer explained. “He said he could fast-track building permits.”
The other victim told us that he and his wife thought, “This could be our future. He opened the door…He tickled and we bit on his story.”
They both didn’t want the details of their actual transactions with Mctigue published. They said they worried he would know which of his victims were cooperating with law enforcement.
According to Humboldt County’s Planning and Building Director John Ford who said he was outraged to learn of the allegations against Mctigue, “This is a violation of the public trust.”
He said that Mctigue was not directly involved with issuing cannabis permits. However, he explained, “Mctigue was responsible for providing site inspections of cannabis permits and inspections related to Building Permits associated with cannabis sites in addition to Building Permits not related to cannabis. He was not responsible for issuance of any permits or the manner in which permits were processed.”
One of the victims explained that he knew that Mctigue couldn’t help with the actual cannabis permits but, he said, “If we were going to need electricity and water [in greenhouses], we needed building permits.”
According to one of the victims, Mctigue “stated that he could push them through and John Ford would listen to his approval of those permits filed.”
However, after several months, both began to suspect that Mctigue was neither moving their permits through the process more quickly nor was Simply Humboldt Grown, Mctigue’s collective, actually doing business.
They both decided not to rock the boat and hope that something would work out. “I took the risk,” one explained. “I got ripped off but let’s leave it.”
One of the victims eventually learned that Mctigue was no longer actively working at the Planning Department. “Patrick was on medical leave,” the victim said he learned. “He got in a car wreck with a county vehicle while he was working and is on medical leave.”
Director Ford said that he couldn’t confirm that Mctigue had been on medical leave for legal reasons but he did confirm that Mctigue was in an accident in early November of 2017. Mctigue hasn’t been working actively at the Planning Department for some time, Ford explained, Mctigue “has been out for undisclosed reasons.”
At some point in November, after the accident, Ford said that he had learned there was an investigation into Mctigue’s actions at work.
A couple months after the accident, one of the victims we spoke to spotted Mctigue’s vehicle at a friend’s property. He said that one Sunday he was driving. “I noticed that Pat’s truck is parked at my buddy’s house.”
He said he called the friend and asked why he had a building inspector at his place on a Sunday. We have not been able to confirm this but the victim we spoke to said his buddy told him that Mctigue had offered to inspect the place for cash. But the victim said he knew that Mctigue couldn’t be inspecting for the Planning Department because he was out on leave.
The victim then contacted his District’s Supervisor and explained that he believed Mctigue was acting unethically. Eventually, the victim spoke to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office with his concerns. He said he was told then that an investigation had already begun based on other complaints that law enforcement had received earlier.
“Everything he promised…he didn’t do…,” explained one victim. Beyond that, Mctigue didn’t even complete some of the basic jobs of an inspector, charged one of the victims who said that normal paperwork which should have been signed and then entered with the main office wasn’t filed by Mctigue. And now it has to be redone
According to Director Ford of the Humboldt County Planning Department, they have not yet learned how many permits may have been improperly influenced by Mctigue. He stressed that the department takes responsibility. “If a member of this department was inappropriate, we are going to work in a manner to make [any problems] whole…My basic approach is that we are..responsible for mistakes.”
He said that his department was prepared to help victims come into compliance. “If there is anything awry with anybody’s inspections, we will work with them to make things right,” he explained.
Ford said that his department has already learned of one person who needed to make changes to his property when it was re-looked at in the wake of the Mctigue investigation. He explained, “We had to work with a homeowner builder to address the way some of the way things were done. They did not end up negatively affected.”
Unfortunately, Ford said, “We will probably be uncovering things [improperly inspected] for a while.”
Now that Mctigue’s actions have been reported in the news, Samantha Karges, spokesperson for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department explained, “[W]e are expecting more people to come forward.”
She suggested, “Any victims who may also be involved in illegal activities should contact the DA’s office or get an attorney to represent them. The DA’s office has the power to negotiate immunity in exchange for a testimony. I cannot promise or say for sure that the DA’s office will do that, but they are the only agency who has the power to do such a thing.”
Meanwhile, the victims are trying to recover from their losses. One of the victims estimates he lost about $10,000 and the other estimates he lost about $15,000 to Mctigue. Almost more than the loss of money though, they are groping to understand how this could have happened with a respected local man in a position of authority.
Both explained that they felt that because Mctigue was local and they were local, that he would be safe to do business with. “We were all born and raised here and we’re all in this together,” one of the victims said explaining why they trusted Mctigue. “Everybody knew him…We knew his wife. We knew his daughter…Everyone knows him…and he still did this.”