Pubdate: Wed, 02 Sep 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


The 24 known investors bought into a plan establishing 10 exclusive 
commercial growing sites in Ohio.

There is a doctor, a developer, an NBA legend, a fashion designer, a 
knight, an ex-boyband member, a professional football player and 
descendants of a U.S. president.

Despite their widely varied backgrounds, investors in the for-profit 
ResponsibleOhio marijuana-legalization plan have something in common: 
They all want to make money, and lots of it.

The 24 known investors bought into a plan establishing 10 exclusive 
commercial marijuana-growing sites across the state. The list of 
investors does not include those who bought shares from the original 
investors but whose names are not disclosed on U.S. Securities 
Exchange Commission forms.

If marijuana legalization is approved by voters in the Nov. 3 
election, investors will spend hundreds of millions to build enclosed 
structures to grow pot for a business estimated by ResponsibleOhio to 
generate $1 billion a year, which would be taxed, with proceeds going 
primarily to local governments.

Curt Steiner, spokesman for Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, 
criticized the investor group, saying, "It's a shame that a small 
number of wealthy individuals are trying to get richer by cementing 
themselves into the Ohio Constitution."

Here's a closer look, by county growing site, at the people who are 
putting up at least $20 million to bankroll the 
marijuana-legalization constitutional amendment and why they say they 
are involved.

Franklin County

Licking County

Dr. Suresh Gupta is a Dayton anesthesiologist and pain-management 
physician who owns the growing site in Pataskala. He said he plans to 
devote 90 percent of his property to cultivating marijuana for 
medicinal purposes.

"We look forward to providing much-needed medical marijuana for 
people with debilitating diseases," he said, adding that the 
marijuana could be used by cancer patients or those with Alzheimer's 
disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.

He is a 1980 graduate of a medical college in India and has been in 
medical practices in Ohio since 1993.

Gupta was charged with five counts of gross sexual imposition in 2008 
but was found not guilty on all charges. He has been named in several 
civil malpractice suits but has not lost any cases or paid damages, 
ResponsibleOhio officials said.

Sir Alan Mooney, who has three decades in the investment business, 
added "Sir" to his name in 2007 when he was knighted by Pope Benedict 
XVI as a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, a ceremonial 
order of the Roman Catholic Church dating from the Crusades. He has a 
minister's license in Ohio.

Mooney caused a stir when word spread about a YouTube video, now 
publicly inaccessible, in which he pitched marijuana investments to 
several potential partners. "Let's hop on this tsunami of money and 
ride the top of that wave to some enrichment for us," he said in the video.

Delaware County

Jennifer Doering is an investor in a 25-acre site on Rt. 42 abutting 
the Delaware city limits in Concord Township. She is general manager 
with the Chas. Seligman Distributing Co., a Walton, Ky., beer and 
wine distributor.

"Marijuana legalization will help drive economic growth in Ohio. We 
will be responsible employers and examples of why respecting workers' 
rights is simply good business," Doering said at a news conference.

Butler County

Nanette Lepore, a Youngstown native and New York fashion designer, is 
the younger sister of state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown. 
She is also the sister-in-law of former state Rep. Bob Hagan, 
D-Youngstown, who offered unsuccessful marijuana-legalization 
legislation proposals in previous legislative sessions.

"This is an incredible opportunity for places like my hometown of 
Youngstown to generate significant dollars for things like road and 
bridge repair, which in turn will create thousands of needed jobs," 
Lepore said in a statement.

Barbara Gould, of the affluent Cincinnati suburb Indian Hill, is 
involved in NG Green Investments, which would own the Butler County 
farm. Gould, a widow, has been a supporter of the arts, including the 
Cincinnati Ballet, and a contributor to candidates of both major 
political parties.

Her late husband, Bill Motto, founder and former chairman of Meridian 
Bioscience, died of cancer last year.

"He could have benefited from access to medical marijuana," she said.

Paul Heldman, a Cincinnati attorney and former general counsel for 
the Kroger Co., has said he decided to invest because his son 
developed epilepsy 10 years ago and could be helped by medical 
marijuana. He is a board member of CenterBank.

"Until we legalize marijuana in Ohio and throughout our country, 
rigorous scientific research into its applications will not be 
possible and thousands, perhaps millions, of people will suffer 
needlessly," Heldman said in a statement.

Woody Taft and Dudley Taft Jr. are brothers and the 
great-greatgrandnephews of President William Howard Taft and cousins 
of former Gov. Bob Taft. Woody Taft is a private equity investor, 
vice president of development at Taft Broadcasting Co. and trustee of 
the Louise Taft Semple Foundation, a philanthropic arts group.

"Our current laws are archaic and cruel to the people in Ohio who 
need medical marijuana," he said in a statement released earlier this year.

Dudley Taft Jr., a blues guitarist and graduate of the Berklee 
College of Music, has several albums to his credit, including Left 
for Dead and Skin and Bone. He owns rocker Peter Frampton's former 
home and studio in the Cincinnati area.

"It's appalling that black Ohioans are four times more likely to be 
arrested for marijuana than white Ohioans, even though both groups 
use it equally," Dudley Taft said in a statement. "It is 
irresponsible to allow such an unjust system to continue."

Clermont County

Frank "Bo" Wood, an investor in the Clermont County farm, operating 
as DGF LLC, is chief executive officer of Secret Communications, a 
Cincinnati investment firm. He is the former general manager and 
president of WEBN-FM radio in Cincinnati, a magazine publisher, 
concert promoter and father of the city's Labor Day fireworks celebration.

Wood has an economics degree from Harvard University and a law degree 
from the University of Chicago.

Hamilton County

Oscar Robertson is probably the most high-profile investor. The 
former All-American basketball player at the University of Cincinnati 
and pro basketball star is now chairman of Orchem, a Cincinnati-based 
special chemical-manufacturing company.

"It's a terrible feeling when you can't help someone suffering from 
cancer or another debilitating medical condition - I know from 
personal experience," Robertson said in a statement. "But medical 
marijuana can give our loved ones relief. I'm part of ResponsibleOhio 
because I want to be part of making this change a reality."

William J. Foster is the owner of A-1 Quality Logistical Solutions, a 
Cincinnati warehousing company.

Frostee Lynn Rucker is a defensive end for the NFL's Arizona 
Cardinals who formerly played for the Cincinnati Bengals and 
Cleveland Browns after his college career at the University of 
Southern California.

Lorain County

Bobby George is managing member of Corporate Management Group of 
Lakeside, a restaurant, real-estate and privateequity firm. George's 
group runs several restaurants, including Harry Buffalo in Elyria and 
Barley House in downtown Cleveland.

Townhall, one of George's restaurants in Cleveland, hosted a "welcome 
rally" for Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, an opponent 
of marijuana legalization.

David Bruno is a businessman from Wellsville who owns Sterling China 
USA and other companies.

Tony Giardini is an attorney who previously worked on failed efforts 
to bring casino gambling to Lorain.

Lucas County

David Bastos, a Cincinnati real-estate developer and partner with 
Capital Investment Group Inc., said investing in marijuana was "a 
no-brainer" in terms of potential jobs and tax revenue.

Stark County

Ben Kovler is a Chicago investment banker who created a business 
called Green Thumb Industries to sell lighting, fertilizers and other 
items to marijuanagrowing farms in Illinois, where medical marijuana is legal.

He also sold shares in his investment in Alliance, Ohio, to 23 
investors, SEC records show.

Brian Kessler, the son of the man who patented the HulaHoop, is 
president of Maui Toys
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom