Seven Arrested and Charged in Medical Marijuana Scheme

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Seven individuals face felony charges in Santa Clara County for their illegal involvement in medical marijuana clinics.

An investigation led by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Division of Investigation San Jose Field Office, found that Mykhailo Malenkov was illegally operating four medical marijuana clinics in San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, and Sacramento. The investigation revealed the clinics were medical marijuana recommendation mills that generated millions of dollars for an organized criminal enterprise.

Under California law, medical clinics must be owned by a doctor, which Malenkov is not.  Malenkov allegedly hired Dr. Charles Nordlinger to act as the clinic’s owner. Malenkov paid Dr. Nordlinger and Dr. Bennie Brown to sign medical marijuana recommendations without performing exams.  The clinic took payment in cash, which was believed to have been sent overseas to be laundered.

In February 2015, Malenkov was charged with six felony counts for unlicensed practice of medicine, conspiracy, and money laundering.  Dr. Nordlinger was charged with two felony counts for aiding the unlicensed practice of medicine and perjury.  Dr. Brown was charged with one felony count of aiding the unlicensed practice of medicine.

Four other individuals were also charged for involvement in the scheme.  Olexandr Filippov was charged with one felony count for unlicensed practice of medicine.  Gayane Baran was charged with one felony count of aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine.  Michelle Alejo was charged with one felony count of aiding the unlicensed practice of medicine and one misdemeanor count of obstructing an investigation.  Savannah Sedgwick was charged with one felony count of aiding the unlicensed practice of medicine and one misdemeanor count of obstructing an investigation.

Dr. Brown was also charged with a felony count of aiding the unlicensed practice of medicine in Sacramento County.  His next court appearance in that county will be March 25, 2015.  Superior Court Judges in both Santa Clara and Sacramento have ordered Dr. Brown not to work at any marijuana recommendation clinic.

The Medical Board of California will pursue disciplinary action, as appropriate, against the doctors’ licenses.