Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jul 2011
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2011 MaineToday Media, Inc.
Authors: Leslie Bridgers and Michael Shepherd


Berkeley Patients Group, a California medical marijuana dispensary 
operator, is suing the executive director of Augusta-based Northeast 
Patients Group for allegedly breaching her employment contract by 
failing to disclose negotiations with another financial backer.

The lawsuit against Rebecca DeKeuster and Northeast Patients Group 
was filed on July 6 in Cumberland County Superior Court and seeks 
repayment of $632,195 in loans. It also asks that the court order 
DeKeuster, of Augusta, to end her association with Northeast Patients Group.

The suit alleges that DeKeuster, while being paid by Berkeley, used 
confidential information to strike a deal with a new financial 
backer, and didn't tell the California group about those talks.

She resigned in February, after signing a letter of intent with the 
new investor, a Rhode Island-based organization backed by former 
professional basketball player Cuttino Mobley.

The letter between Northeast and Mobley Pain Management and Wellness 
Center outlines terms that had been discussed, including a $2 million 
financial commitment from Mobley, as well as a $100,000 bridge loan 
effective upon the signing of the letter of intent, which is dated Feb. 23.

Mobley has provided Northeast with "some amount of money" to advance 
a cultivation site in Thomaston, which has been operational since 
June, according to Catherine Cobb, director of the Department of 
Health and Human Services' Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services.

DeKeuster, who had worked for Berkeley Patients Group since 2004, was 
assigned in 2010 to lead the organization's effort to open 
dispensaries in Maine. Northeast Patients Group formed, and, with 
funding from Berkeley, applied for and was awarded four of the 
state's eight dispensary licenses.

Nearly a year later, those four clinics -- which Northeast has said 
would be in Portland, Augusta, Thomaston and the Bangor area -- are 
the only state-licensed dispensaries that have yet to open.

Cobb said the Thomaston dispensary should open soon, but Northeast 
hasn't signed lease agreements on locations for the other three dispensaries.

DeKeuster did not return calls today.

Northeast's lawyer, Dan Walker of Preti Flaherty, released a written 
statement in response to the lawsuit. He said that he and Northeast 
disagree with the facts presented and would file a response within a few weeks.

"We do expect to have necessary funding and support to open the 
dispensaries in the very near term," Walker said.

Brad Sesnac, spokesman for Berkeley Patients Group, declined to 
comment on the lawsuit.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom