Medical marijuana group settles lawsuit

In this Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012 photo, Becky DeKeuster, executive director of the Wellness Connection of Maine, comments on the facility in Hallowell, Maine, at the state's latest marijuana dispensary.
Pat Wellenbach | AP
In this Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012 photo, Becky DeKeuster, executive director of the Wellness Connection of Maine, comments on the facility in Hallowell, Maine, at the state's latest marijuana dispensary.
Posted June 07, 2012, at 3:59 p.m.

The operator of half of Maine’s medical marijuana dispensaries has settled a lawsuit brought by its former California backer.

The Wellness Connection of Maine reached a settlement June 1 with Berkeley Patients Group, according to Stephen Langsdorf, the attorney who represented Wellness Connection in the suit.

“The Wellness Connection of Maine is very happy to put this matter behind it,” he said Thursday.

Langsdorf declined to discuss the terms of the settlement. Chuck Remmel, an attorney for Berkeley, could not be reached for comment.

The state chose the nonprofit Wellness Connection, a spinoff of Berkeley then known as Northeast Patients Group, in 2010 to operate four of Maine’s eight medical marijuana dispensaries. Wellness Connection has since opened dispensaries in Brewer, Portland, Hallowell and Thomaston.

In July 2011, Berkeley sued Northeast Patients Group and its executive director, Rebecca DeKeuster, alleging that DeKeuster used inside information from her job at Berkeley to cut a deal with another investor, Rhode Island-based Mobley Pain Management and Wellness Center.

The center is managed by former NBA player Cuttino Mobley.

DeKeuster, who headed up Berkeley’s expansion into New England, allegedly signed a letter of intent with Mobley in February 2011 and then promptly resigned from Berkeley, thwarting the California company’s efforts to set up shop in Maine.

The lawsuit charged DeKeuster with breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and sought $632,000 in lost investments and related costs.

Northeast later countersued, contending that Berkeley failed to provide adequate capital to open the four dispensaries and asking a judge to dismiss some of Berkeley’s claims.

Berkeley is no longer involved with the Maine clinics.

Last week’s settlement puts an end to the legal battle, Langsdorf said.

“It has no impact whatsoever on the ongoing operations of the now four open and operating dispensaries,” he said.

DeKeuster did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last August, Northeast Patients Group announced that a group headed by Mobley would provide it $1.6 million in capital over eight years at 8.5 percent annual interest. Mobley also planned to provide medical marijuana supplies and consult on security, cultivation, marketing and public relations.

Mobley is also the sole financial backer of the Summit Compassion Center, a medical marijuana dispensary planned to be located outside of Providence, R.I.

Mobley retired in 2008 from an 11-year NBA career with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers because of a congenital heart condition. He attended Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield as a postgraduate student and athlete in 1992-1993.

Maine also has licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Auburn, Biddeford, Ellsworth and Frenchville that are operated by different groups.

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