Top US attorney in Oregon charges 9 in fraud, pot scheme

U.S. Attorney Billy Williams of Oregon. (File image)
U.S. Attorney Billy Williams of Oregon. (File image)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon’s top federal prosecutor has charged nine people with financial and drug crimes in what he says was a scheme to defraud banks and use the money to grow marijuana for the black market.

The case announced Tuesday is the first involving marijuana-related charges prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Billy Williams since he issued a memo criticizing Oregon’s pot surplus.

Williams was the first U.S. attorney to publicly outline his strategy for federal marijuana enforcement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back Obama-era protections for states with legal pot.

Federal prosecutors say the current case began as a major fraud investigation and grew into a drug probe that also stretched into California and Illinois.

Williams says illicit funds were also used to start a state-licensed retail store in Corvallis, Oregon.

Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press

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