Consultant found not guilty after aiding tribe in cannabis cultivation

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A South Dakota jury cleared a consultant of drug charges after he helped an American Indian tribe grow marijuana for a cannabis resort the tribe once hoped would include an outdoor music venue and bring in millions of dollars.

Eric Hagen – a 34-year-old consultant who worked with the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe – had faced charges of conspiracy to possess, possession by aiding and abetting, and attempted possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana. The plan for a resort north of Sioux Falls was ultimately abandoned.

The jury took only a couple of hours to find Hagen, of Sioux Falls, not guilty in state court. He had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on both the conspiracy and possession counts and 7½ years on the attempted possession count.

Afterward, Hagen said the prosecution had damaged Colorado-based Monarch America, the consulting company for which he serves as president and CEO and which helped the Santee Sioux.

Hagen and fellow consultant Jonathan Hunt, also with Monarch America, were charged last year after helping the tribe. Hunt pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy count after agreeing to cooperate with law enforcement.

– Associated Press