Northeast Patients Group hit with lawsuit

July 14th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

Northeast Patients Group, which holds permits to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland, Bangor and elsewhere in Maine, is being sued by its former financial backer in California.

In court filings, Berkeley Patients Group alleges Augusta-based Northeast Patients Group failed to pay back more than $630,000 in loans used for salaries and start-up funds during the successful 2010 permitting process.

Northeast’s chief executive Becky DeKeuster is also named in the lawsuit, which was filed July 6 in Cumberland County Superior Court. DeKeuster, who severed ties with Berkeley in February, is accused of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and disclosing trade secrets to a competitor. She declined to be interviewed yesterday.

Dan Walker, an attorney with Preti Flaherty, said in a written statement that Northeast and DeKeuster disputed Berkeley’s version of events. Walker said he would file a counterclaim soon.

Meanwhile, he added that Northeast expected to “have necessary funding and support to open (its) dispensaries in the very near term.”

Berkeley officials also declined to comment on the lawsuit.

DeKeuster, a former educator, began working for Berkeley in 2004. She was later named a director of company, which operates one of the largest dispensaries in Berkeley.

She was still working for Berkeley when she moved to Maine, sometime after the successful 2009 referendum that allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to open, according to court documents. Her title in Maine was “New England Expansion Director” for Berkeley.

DeKeuster was paid up to $125,000 per year by the California firm to oversee the medical marijuana permitting process in Maine.

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