Union organizer sentenced for money laundering

A labor organizer who tried to unionize workers in the cannabis industry was sentenced Tuesday to 37 months in federal prison for participating in a money laundering scheme, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Daniel Rush pleaded guilty to receiving an illegal payment as a union employee, honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to commit structuring and money laundering.

Rush breached his fiduciary duties to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and violated federal law through a series of self-enriching schemes between 2010 and 2015, prosecutors said.

Those include a 2010 conspiracy to launder roughly $420,000 in illegal drug proceeds through the banking system with attorney Marc L. TerBeek using a loan from a person in the cannabis industry and “deliberately” mischaracterizing interest payments as consulting fees.

Rush also referred cannabis businesses he met through working for the union to TerBeek’s law firm in exchange for kickbacks and demanded then accepted money for establishing TerBeek as a legal services provider in workers compensation cases for the Instituto de la Raza Laboral – which prosecutors called an abuse of his position as a board member and executive treasurer there.

He also pleaded guilty to attempted extortion involving a business that had applied for a dispensary permit while he was a commissioner on the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Commission – threatening to take “adverse action” against their application unless they offered him a salaried job with benefits.

TerBeek pleaded guilty to making an illegal payment to a union employee and willfully violating an anti-structuring regulation on Feb. 16.

He’s scheduled to return to court for sentencing Nov. 27, according to prosecutors.

The FBI and Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division both investigated the case.