A series of three recent stories in the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat discusses hundreds of previously secret text messages between Scott Maddox (D), a lobbyist and politician, and John “J.T.” Burnette, the husband of Kim Rivers, CEO of powerhouse MSO Trulieve.

Burnette, a wealthy real estate developer, is scheduled to go on trial next month for federal racketeering, bribery and extortion charges.

  • A federal indictment alleges Burnette bribed Maddox “to take official actions favorable to Burnette’s business interests” while Maddox was an elected city commissioner. 
  • Burnette has denied all of the charges, which as far as I could determine, are not related to cannabis. Neither Trulieve nor Rivers has been accused of any wrongdoing.

The Democrat‘s reporting claims an exchange from January 2017 involves discussions where Maddox fought to preserve a moratorium on dispensaries in Tallahassee, which benefitted Trulieve since it was already operating one in the city.

  • “Keep fighting,” Burnette texted to Maddox.

A spokesperson for Trulieve said the reporting included a serious factual error since the company has always opposed dispensary moratoriums, which it considers bad for patients and Florida’s MED-only industry.

  • According to the spokesperson, Burnette is not involved with Trulieve except as a minority shareholder in a construction company that Trulieve does business with. “J.T. had no formal role.  As the significant other to our CEO he was a confidante and informal advisor prior to Trulieve attaining its MMTC license.”
  • Reporter Jeffrey Schweers did not respond to requests for comment. 

The texts were inadvertently revealed and then taken down on the federal court records site PACER.

  • Maddox, who has plead guilty to charges from a four-year FBI probe of corruption at Tallahassee city hall, is expected to testify against Burnette. 
  • Burnette’s lawyers have called for the texts to be ruled inadmissible as evidence. 

An undercover FBI agent involved in the investigation called Tallahassee “the most fucked up place I’ve ever come to.”

Trulieve recently announced it would acquire MSO Harvest for $2.1B.

Quick Hits

  1. Two former consultants for delivery service Eaze received federal prison sentences for their involvement in duping banks into handling more than $100M in payments to the service. Eaze was not charged and said it co-operated with authorities.
  2. Companies Ayr Wellness and TILT Holdings each agreed to pay Massachusetts nearly $300k in fines to settle separate allegations of regulatory violations.
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