Sources within the FBI would neither confirm (or deny) the agency has begun looking into connections between Speaker Nick Mattiello( known as E1) and a perspective cannabis growing operation trying to obtain a license. Currently, Governor Gina Raimondo is in a battle with the Speaker to determine how to award six new licenses for compassion centers in Rhode Island. Back in June, Mattiello(E1) slipped in secret legislation that would grant him control over awarding six new licenses to grow and produce cannabis and other hemp related products.
The FBI soon took notice over Rhode Island planning to charge a minimum of $500,000 to obtain a license, which would be in the highest in the nation. One operation with ties to Speaker Mattiello ( which he has toured) has already invested $17 million into their operation despite the fact they have not been awarded a license. An FBI agent speaking on the condition of anonymity said,” let’s just say throwing down $17 million (without a known guaranteed outcome) certainly got our attention. “ This type of corruption is frequently used by a corrupt liquor license boards that lure a perspective new bar owner into thinking obtaining a liquor license won’t be a problem. The owner invest in renovations of the bar and then at the last moment they withhold the license. The owner must then “ pay up” or risk losing their investment.
Governor Raimondo seems to have thrown a wrench in the scheme by suggesting the compassion center licenses be awarded by lottery. The Feds are also looking into the possibility that once the licenses are awarded, there would be constant pressure to continue to pay bribes for fear the operation would be shut down by way of a variety of state regulations. An FBI official said ,” this is possibly a classic extortion shakedown where you award a license and then continually threaten you will shut them down unless they continue to pay.” Back in September, the FBI confirmed Rhode Island was on their watch list for cannabis corruption .
The FBI refused to confirm recent law enforcement rumors that a member of the Speakers “inner circle” ( known as E3) is on surveillance tape with an undercover FBI agent discussing the scheme. The FBI denied a rumor a top aid to Speaker Mattiello ( known as E2) is seen on surveillance tape accepting a cash bribe in regards to cannabis. For the latest, listen to the John DePetro Radio show.