The state’s trial of marijuana entrepreneur Eric Hagen for his involvement in the aborted Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s pot palace completed its second day Monday in Flandreau. The prosecution shows a couple signs of faltering.
First, contrary to my advice, the state actually called disgraced former legislator Mathew Wollmann to the stand to testify. Putting on the stand a twenty-something who lied on camera about his own unethical activity and came clean only when told the press had evidence of his intern-boinking doesn’t strengthen one’s case.
Second, defense attorney Mike Butler seems to be doing a fair job of arguing that the marijuana was owned and controlled by the Flandreau tribe, not by Hagen. Butler is also arguing that charging Hagen with “conspiracy” doesn’t make sense when Hagen was being transparent with state and federal law enforcement about his work for the tribe.
Third, the state’s star witness, Eric Hagen’s business partner Jonathan Hunt, said that his plea deal was just “a natural risk assessment” and that neither he nor Hagen is guilty:
And while Hunt detailed Hagen’s involvement and provided inside information, his testimony was far from the smoking gun the prosecution was looking for. In fact, once on the stand Hunt categorically denied his own and Hagen’s guilt on all charges.
After months of speculation about the details of his deal with the state prosecutor, Hunt explained on Monday that he pleaded to the lesser charges only due to a lack of “financial wherewithal” to mount a legal defense.
As part of his direct examination by the prosecution, Hunt said that the state’s decision to charge him left him “flabbergasted.” When asked on cross examination if he was guilty of conspiracy to possess marijuana, Hunt categorically denied any direct guilt.
“To take the deal, you had to agree to the deal,” Hunt told prosecuting attorney Katie Mallery. “I agreed to tell you guys because, just like I’ve said a hundred times, I’m not afraid of the truth” [“Santee Sioux Trial, Day Two: Ex-Partner Denies Hagen’s Guilt,” Arizona Medical Marijuana Clinics, 2017.05.23].
Kristi Noem, be ready to pounce. Your GOP primary opponent may be about to come out on the short end of another high-profile case.