Somerville Attorney Arrested for Bribing to Expedite Marijuana Dispensary Approval

On June 24, 2022, the FBI arrested Sean O’Donovan of Somerville MA on account of wire fraud and bribery upon discovery of bribing a local police chief to sweeten the deal of approving a new recreational marijuana dispensary.

O’Donovan faces charges on two counts of honest service wire fraud and one count of bribery from programs receiving federal funds.

The city of Medford established a Cannabis Advisory Committee (CAC), where Medford’s police chief, Jack Buckley, serves as one of five members.  

O’Donovan leveraged $25,000 to a relative of Buckley to secure this approval for a client. The client hired O’Donovan in 2018 to help obtain a Host Community Agreement (HCA), which is an essential approval for dispensaries to have before opening their doors.

Along with getting ahead of his competitors, O’Donovan almost struck a gold mine for himself, raking in 1% of the dispensary’s annual gross profits and a $7,500 monthly retainer.

The relative notified the chief of the bribery, subsequently involving the federal authorities to investigate.  O’Donovan met with Buckley’s relative a number of times around the Somerville area.  This allowed the FBI to gather video evidence and texts from Buckley’s relative regarding their interactions with the corrupt lawyer.  

Analysis revealed that O’Donovan allegedly tried to give part of the $25,000 in cash while disguising another part as a loan in an attempt to avoid suspicion.

Upon the FBI’s collection of evidence, O’Donovan was arrested on June 24 and appeared in court that same day. This case is an example of the extensive greed and manipulation of the system, which has been an ongoing issue for the Commonwealth.