Michigan marijuana clinic employees head to trial

FERNDALE — Eight of nine people with ties to a medical marijuana clinic raided by undercover police last August learned Friday they will stand trial on drug and conspiracy charges.

The defendants owned or worked at Clinical Relief on Hilton Road. They waited six months for attorneys to file written arguments and rebuttals so 43rd District Judge Joseph Longo could make a ruling.

Longo found there was probable cause that eight defendants broke laws when marijuana was sold to undercover police at the clinic.

The police had phony patient cards indicating they were certified to use medical marijuana and at least one officer also showed a driver’s license made by the state with his alias.

However, Longo said the case before him had nothing to do with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

“It may become one but it hasn’t developed into one yet,” Longo said. “Those answers will come some place else not here.”

The defendants from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties were charged with conspiracy and manufacturing and delivering controlled substances following the raid by police on the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET).

Longo dismissed all charges against Stacey Ellenbrook, 41, of Chesterfield Township, saying she acted only as a receptionist at Clinical Relief.

“She checked in people and directed them to a waiting room,” Longo said.

He also dismissed two felony firearm charges against Anthony Agro, 42, of Troy, who would have spent a mandatory two years in prison if convicted.

Agro and other defendants, including his mother and brother, clapped quietly when Longo ruled there wasn’t sufficient evidence to put him on trial for possession of a firearm during a felony.

The judge pointed out that the handgun in question is registered to Agro’s brother and it was in a safe with marijuana and cash in another room. He ruled no evidence shows Agro knew the gun was there.

However, Agro was bound over for trial on 10 other charges, including two counts of conspiracy, seven counts of delivering or manufactur

ing marijuana, and one count of delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance called THC.

Longo also dismissed four of six charges against Agro’s mother, Barbara Agro, 69, of Lake Orion, saying she too acted as a receptionist except on Aug. 25, 2010. The judge said that’s when an undercover office went to the clinic to “unload” marijuana and she responded “it looks like you’re here to see Tony.”

Barbara Agro will stand trial on one count of conspiracy and one count of possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

Her other son, Nicholas Agro, 38, of Lake Orion, was known as “Chef Nick” on the clinic web site. He owned Clinical Relief with Mathew Curtis, 39, of Lake Orion and Ryan Richmond, 33, of Royal Oak. They each will stand trial for two counts each of conspiracy to deliver and manufacture marijuana and THC.

Curtis also was bound over on two counts of delivering and manufacturing marijuana. He took undercover officers to the sales room, according to police testimony.

Also facing trial are Ryan Fleissner, 30, of Livonia; Angelina Veseli, 24, of Roseville; and Barbara Johnson, 40, of Leonard.

Fleissner and Johnson will each stand trial on two counts of conspiracy, two counts of manufacturing or delivering marijuana and one count of delivering THC.

Veseli will go to trial for aiding and abetting. She greeted an undercover officer at the door and introduced him to Fleissner, according to police testimony.

Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Beth Hand was the only attorney to call witness at the preliminary examination held in November at the Kulick Community Center because there were so many defendants and lawyers.

Only one of the defense attorney, Steve Fishman, appeared in court Friday to hear Longo’s decision.

“I’m the designated hitter,” he said.

Longo continued the bond for the defendants while they await trial in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Eight other defendants charged after NET raids last summer of two Waterford businesses were ordered to stand trial in March. Those defendants had ties to Everybody’s Cafée and Herbal Remedies.

These cases are a couple of a growing number that could be a test case of the 2008 state act passed by 63 percent of Michigan voters.

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