AUGUSTA — Maine’s largest medical marijuana dispensary nonprofit group has settled a lawsuit brought by its former California backer.

Stephen Langsdorf, an attorney for the Wellness Connection of Maine, said Wednesday that the agreement was signed Friday and he couldn’t discuss the terms. Earlier this spring and under conditions of anonymity, a source close to settlement negotiations said terms discussed included consideration for an original investment.

“A settlement agreement was signed between the parties, duly putting the litigation behind us,” Langsdorf said. “Now, Wellness Connection is basically going to focus on serving our core mission of serving patients whose doctors have recommended use of this medication.”

The agreement ended a legal battle touched off in July 2011, when California-based Berkeley Patients Group sued Wellness Connection of Maine — then called Northeast Patients Group — in Cumberland County Superior Court for $632,000 in unpaid loans. Berkeley also asked for Becky DeKeuster, Wellness Connection’s executive director, to be removed from her post.

In 2010, Northeast Patients Group won four of eight licenses to operate Maine dispensaries in different regions of Maine. By the time they were sued, none had opened.

Now, they have all four open: in Hallowell, Portland, Thomaston and Brewer.

The suit alleged that DeKeuster, while working for Berkeley as New England expansion director, used Berkeley’s proprietary information to negotiate a financing deal between Northeast and ex-NBA player Cuttino Mobley. It said DeKeuster signed a letter of intent with Mobley in February 2011 and resigned from Berkeley days later, cutting the California group out of the Maine medical marijuana market.

Northeast countersued for monetary awards from Berkeley and asked a judge to dismiss counts against it. Under the settlement, Langsdorf said all claims and counterclaims will now be withdrawn.

In August, Northeast agreed to a deal with The Wellness and Pain Management Connection, a Delaware limited-liability corporation led by Mobley and The Farmacy Institute for Wellness, an offshoot of a California dispensary group. Documents filed then said The Wellness and Pain Management Connection would provide Northeast with $1.6 million over eight years at 8.5 percent annual interest in exchange for consulting.

DeKeuster and Jacques Santucci, who has done business consulting for Wellness Connection, didn’t respond to phone messages left Wednesday seeking comment on the settlement.

Berkeley Patients Group, whose CEO Tim Schick grew up in Maine, has had a rough year so far.

On May 1, the group’s location in Berkeley, Calif., was forced to close after U.S. attorney Melinda Haag warned the group’s landlord the federal government would seize his assets if marijuana kept being distributed there, according to California Watch.

The investigative journalism website reported Haag “cited violations of federal law and the outlet’s 1,000-foot proximity to two schools.”
 

Michael Shepherd — 621-5632

[email protected]