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Thursday, November 4,2010

Undercover operation

Smoking club customers monitored for a week before the bust

by Andy Balaskovitz

This story was updated August 13.


Undercover agents wrote down more than 230 license plates as part of their surveillance of the Green Leaf Smokers Club in Williamstown Township, the lawyer for the club's operator said Thursday.

James White, who represents Frederick "Wayne" Dagit, sought unsuccessfully to get information about the license plates admitted into evidence at a preliminary hearing for his client. Judge Donald Allen Jr. of 55th District Court sustained an objection by Assistant Prosecutor Bill Crino, who argued the information was irrelevant.

White argued the undercover operation was an inordinate amount of time to target Dagit.

"How many thousands of dollars and man hours were spent on monitoring Green Leaf?" White said after the hearing. “And the license plates were just one small variable.”


Allen ruled that Dagit should stand trial in Circuit Court on four felony drug charges: two counts of possession with intent to deliver between five and 45 kilograms of marijuana, one count of manufacturing more than 20 but less than 200 marijuana plants and one count of maintaining a drug house.

Dagit faces up to seven years in prison. No date was set Thursday for his trial.

White also expressed concern that other cases were set aside by the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad to pursue Dagit, as was shown during Dep. Robert Block’s testimony, an undercover agent with the team. Block could not say how many cases were set aside and why, as that was a decision for his superior, but he did acknowledge that some were.

“How many kids were out buying heroin during that time?” White asked hypothetically.

White has contended that his client is the victim of politics and a "classic case of entrapment" resulting from opposition to the medical marijuana operation by Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth, who has spoken out against it.

Today, the confidential informant involved with the case testified that a federal Drug Enforcement Agency agent and Det. Bill Eberhardt of the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad directed him to lie about the amount of marijuana he could sell to Dagit. The informant was directed to tell Dagit he could secure 600 pounds, though the amount prepared by law enforcement for the deal was near 230 pounds.

(At the request of Crino, City Pulse is not publishing the informant’s name, which was revealed in court today.)

“Clearly we have government involvement here,” White said following Dagit’s preliminary examination that lasted more than five hours. “He (the informant) was encouraged to fabricate the story.”

The informant, who said he is 25, also testified that he and Dagit had a business relationship dating back to about March 1, months before investigations into Dagit even began. Between March 1 and late April, there were five marijuana transactions between the informant and Dagit, totaling between $35,000 and $45,000, that took place in Okemos, Williamstown Township and downtown Lansing, the informant testified.

All of those deals were for between one and six pounds, getting bigger after each one.

However, an unrelated raid involving the informant on April 24 led to federal drug charges being brought against him. That is when the informant told the DEA he would help them take down Dagit in exchange for lesser charges against himself.

State immunity laws grant protection for the informant from the five previous drug deals with Dagit, Crino said.

Eberhardt said law enforcement turned its attention to Dagit around May 1, when he said the squad began receiving complaints about heavy traffic and the number of marijuana plants growing at the business.

On May 14, Dagit went from an interest to a target of the narcotics team, Eberhardt said.

On that day, an undercover officer with the narcotics team attempted to illegally buy marijuana from Dagit, but Dagit refused because he did not have his state-issued medical marijuana card.

Within a week, the DEA contacted Eberhardt, saying it had a confidential informant willing to cooperate in an operation against Dagit. Eberhardt confirmed that the informant was “working off charges” for which he was already under investigation.

Eberhardt also testified that the Meridian Mall parking lot was the location where he met multiple times with the informant and a DEA agent before the alleged drug deals were made with Dagit at the smoking club, 530 E. Grand River Ave., in Williamstown Township. The three met between Caesarland and Macy’s department store.

Sgt. Raymond Durham of the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad, who prepared the roughly 230 pounds allegedly involved in the transaction between the informant and Dagit on May 26, also testified this afternoon.

Bail was originally set for $500,000 for Dagit, but he was released last month on an electronic tether.

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