A Kalispell man who rented space to a medical marijuana business is facing prison time and his attorney hopes to raise awareness about the situation for other landlords.
Jonathan Janetski, 43, has an April 19 sentencing date in U.S. District Court in Missoula for charges of maintaining drug-involved premises. Janetski was originally charged with four offenses, and was one of dozens indicted after federal officers raided multiple medical marijuana facilities in Montana in March 2011.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara Elliott and Timothy Racicot are prosecuting the case, which is assigned to Judge Donald Molloy.
According to his attorney Todd Glazier, Janetski rented a space to Evan Corum, Tyler Roe and Michael Kassner for their medical marijuana business, but he had no part in the growing or selling of the drug.
The building had a well-developed ventilation system, Glazier said, and Janetski was able to use his skills as a general contractor to make modifications to the electrical system to help fit his tenants’ needs.
Janetski felt skittish about the arrangement after a while, Glazier said, but allowed the business to stay after hearing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement that the federal government would not use its resources to go after people using medical marijuana in accordance with state law.
After the March 2011 raids, which resulted in the prosecution of dozens of providers around the state, Janetski was indicted along with Corum, Roe and Kassner.
Janetski took a plea agreement in December 2011, and prosecutors dropped three of the charges against him, which included conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.
He pleaded to the fourth charge of maintaining drug-related premises.
“My client had no choice but to plead guilty because he did maintain premises,” Glazier said.
The tenants have already been sentenced in federal court, each receiving roughly one-year sentences. But Janetski will likely face a recommended sentence of three years in prison, Glazier said, despite not having been involved directly with growing marijuana.
Janetski is also the sole landlord to face charges after the raids.
“Of the search warrants that were executed last year, this is the first premises plea,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr said.
Fehr said she could not speak in specifics in terms of this case, but noted that there is no mandatory minimum sentencing requirement for maintaining drug-involved premises charges.
Fehr also said she could not comment on why Janetski is the only landlord facing premises charges after the raids.
Glazier has his own theory. He believes the prosecutors wrongfully indicted his client along with the other three defendants and now will not reverse their decision.
“They were too arrogant to take a step back and do what’s right,” Glazier said.
At this point in the case, Glazier said he would like to highlight his client’s case to raise awareness for other landlords who may be renting to medical marijuana businesses.
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