A Dundas lawyer is one of five people charged with being part of a criminal organization that allegedly duped Health Canada into giving it licences to grow medical marijuana that was in fact destined for the street.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Frank Gougeon said Ira Greenspoon, 56, allegedly provided affidavits to support fraudulent licence applications by people claiming they needed to grow the pot to treat their medical conditions.
“When it went to Health Canada, it looked legit,” he said after a March 7 press conference on a joint 18-month investigation by the RCMP and Hamilton police that led to the seizure of 240 marijuana plants at two locations in the lower city.
“The marijuana was actually sold on the street.”
Police allege 49-year-old reputed crime boss Andre Gravelle, who is currently in prison for a previous drug-trafficking conviction, masterminded the “egregious exploitation” of Health Canada regulations to obtain more than a dozen licences.
Among those also charged are his 56-year-old brother, 41-year-old sister and 20-year-old son, the latter of whom faces a single charge of false pretences. In all, police laid 36 charges against 12 people.
“Essentially, the police allegation is that this is a structured organized-crime group that was formed for the purposes of profit and has been operating for an extended period of time,” RCMP Insp. Steve Martin said.
Martin said the charge of participating in a criminal organization is the most serious of the offences and can bring a life sentence upon conviction.
Greenspoon is Andre Gravelle’s lawyer and allegedly “counseled the crime group on the conduct of this criminal activity so that it would continue to flourish,” he said.
Police allege the group’s trafficking activities extended to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
“From my own 31 years of experiences I’ve only charged one other practising lawyer,” Martin said when asked if charges against a lawyer are unusual and difficult to lay in such cases.
“Suffice to say that we did go through a number of judicial steps to make sure that the evidence we were obtaining was authorized by competent jurists.”
Efforts to reach Greenspoon for comment were unsuccessful.
All of the accused, except Andre Gravelle, have been released from jail on their own recognizance. They are scheduled to appear in provincial court in April.