SEATTLE (AP) — Medical marijuana entrepreneur Brionne Corbray whose dispensaries were raided last year, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to five years of probation and fined $25,000, but he avoided prison time.
He’s the first local dispensary owner to be sentenced on federal drug-dealing charges, The Seattle Times reported Thursday.
Corbray pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to deal drugs, based on undercover drug buys at his three dispensaries. They were raided along with his home in November 2011 when federal agents seized 7 pounds of dried marijuana and $1,700.
Federal prosecutors wanted a one-year sentence. Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez gave Corbray the probation, fine and a warning because “you were trying to skate on the legal side of things as much as you could.”
Corbray operated G.A.M.E. Collective locations in West Seattle, White Center and North Seattle. The White Center site south of Seattle included a smoking lounge described as a bar without alcohol.
Corbray knew his dispensaries were clearly illegal under federal law and weren’t consistent with “letter of state law … or with even the spirit of state law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi said at the sentencing.
“If we are going to have an intelligent discussion on reform — a discussion about what is the right way and the wrong way to deal with marijuana — you have to have consequences for people doing it wrong. And Mr. Corbray was doing it wrong,” said Lombardi.
Corbray’s attorney, Corey Endo, portrayed him as a devoted family man and entrepreneur operating in a legal gray area.
“Mr. Corbray doesn’t need to bear the brunt — any more than he already has — for the mixed messages” sent by the local, state and federal handling of medical marijuana, he said.
“I didn’t get into this to be a drug dealer. I got into this to provide a living for my family,” said Corbray, who has a wife and four children.
At least two similar cases are pending. Former Seattle medical-marijuana dispensary owners Craig Dieffenbach and Jingjing Mo, who were also targeted in the November 2011 raid, have pleaded guilty to federal drug-dealing charges and are to be sentenced Jan. 10.
Lombardi indicated additional criminal cases involving the local medical-marijuana industry may be coming soon.
“Mr. Corbray will be the first to come before this court, but he won’t be the last,” he said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.