|Photo: Lansing State Journal|
|Rev. Wayne Dagit, 60, during a July preliminary hearing. The minister faces up to 7 years in prison for providing medical marijuana to patients in Michigan.|
Undercover agents spent untold thousands of tax dollars and man hours "monitoring" Rev. Wayne Dagit and patrons of the Green Leaf Smokers Club in Williamstown Township, Michigan, as part of their surveillance of the medical marijuana collective. Now the minister is headed for trial on pot charges, facing up to seven years in prison.
"He was set up from the beginning," Rev. Dagit's son, Mike James, told Toke of the Town. "My dad didn't even have money for the alleged marijuana. He was so broke, he couldn't even pay attention. They think that a man that moved into town with his 15 year old six months ago would suddenly have money and connections in Michigan for 100 pounds? There's more to the story."
"My father was doing everything by the book," Jones told us. "He was set up by some kid named Matt that was supposedly a new friend of my dad's church. He was an informant sent in to do everything in his power to set my dad up. This guy was a snake, and he did everything he could to get my dad to do something that he could get busted for. My dad never had money to buy the amount that is advertised that they confiscated."
"The police set him up, which is how they knew that the 100 pounds was 'recently delivered'," Jones told us. "He was set up and had no plans to do anything illegal. He has helped hundreds of people with everything from counseling to freedom from pain."
Judge Donald Allen Jr, of 55th District Court ruled that 60-year-old Rev. Dagit should stand trial on four felony drug charges: two counts of possession with intent to deliver between five and 45 kilograms of marijuana; one count of manufacturing more than 20 but less than 200 marijuana plants; and one count of maintaining a "drug house, reports Andy Balaskovitz of the Lansing City Pulse.
Dagit's attorney, James White, said after Thursday's hearing that his client was deliberately targeted by an overzealous law enforcement team who spent seven days watching the medical marijuana club before arresting the minister on May 26, reports Kevin Grasha of the Lansing State Journal.
"There hasn't been a shred of evidence that Mr. Dagit did anything other than provide the resource of marijuana for the caregivers and patients that were at his facility," White said.
White pointed out that it was a confidential informant, posing as a dealer, who brought up the entire idea of storing more than 150 pounds of marijuana in Dagit's Okemos, Mich., home.
White said he intends to argue that it was entrapment.
"But for the actions of the government, Mr. Dagit never would have stored those 150 pounds in his home," White said. "It was their pot."
|Photo: Lansing City Pulse|
|Rev. Wayne Dagit before the bust: "I'm not serving pot, I'm serving the Lord."|
"Mickey Martin, President of Williamstown Township, is on a personal vendetta against our ministry and smoke club, calling us a nuisance," Rev. Dagit prophetically told Toke of the Town just two weeks before his bust in May.
"This lady needs to be stopped from lying, manipulating and using the law for her personal preference," Rev. Dagit told us.
Due to the undercover investigation and entrapment of Rev. Dagit, the Green Leaf Smokers Club, established to serve sick and dying patients legally under Michigan's marijuana law, is being defined as a "drug house" and the minister who ran the place is facing a seven-year prison term.
Agents even wrote down more than 230 license plate numbers as part of their surveillance of the club, according to White, who said police spent an inordinate amount of time to target Dagit, who maintains he was abiding by Michigan's medical marijuana law.
Attorney White said other cases were set aside by the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad just so they could pursue Rev. Dagit, as was shown during the testimony of Deputy Robert Block, an undercover agent with the team targeting the minister.
Block claimed he could not say how many other cases were set aside and why -- as that was a decision for his superior -- but he did admit what some were put aside just so the team could target Rev. Dagit.
"How many kids were out buying heroin during that time?" White asked rhetorically.
White said Rev. Dagit, his client, is the victim of politics and a "classic case of entrapment" resulting from opposition to the medical marijuana operation by Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth, who has spoken out against it.
The confidential informant involved with the case testified Thursday that a federal Drug Enforcement Agency agent and Detective Bill Eberhardt of the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad instructed him to lie to Rev. Dagit about the amount of marijuana he could sell to him.
The informant was instructed to tell Daqgit that he could get 600 pounds, though the amount prepared by law enforcement for the deal was only 230 pounds.
"Clearly we have government involvement here," White said following Dagit's preliminary examination, which lasted more than five hours. "He (the informant) was encouraged to fabricate the story."
The 25-year-old informant also testified that he and Rev. Dagit had a previous business relationship dating back to March, months before investigations of the minister had started. There were five marijuana transactions between the informant and Dagit, totaling between $35,000 and $45,000, the informant testified.
All of those deals were for between one and six pounds, getting bigger after each one, the informant claimed.
However, an unrelated raid on April 24 in which the informant was busted led to federal drug charges being brought against him. The informant then told the DEA he would help them "take down" Dagit in exchange for lesser charges against himself.
Eberhardt claimed that law enforcement started watching Rev. Dagit around May 1, when he claimed officers "began receiving complaints" about heavy traffic and the marijuana plants being grown at the business.
Dagit went from a person of interest to a target of the narcotics team on May 14, Eberhardt testified.
That's when an undercover officer with the narcotics team tried to illegally buy marijuana from Rev. Dagit, but Dagit refused because the informant did not have a Michigan medical marijuana card.
Within a week, the DEA contacted Eberhardt, saying it had a confidential informant willing to "cooperate" in the investigation against Rev. Dagit. Ebehardt confirmed that the sleazy informant was "working off charges" for which he was already under investigation.
Bail was originally set at $500,000 for Rev. Dagit. He was released in July on an electronic tether.