Todd Shapiro defending brother of local entrepreneur against marijuana-trafficking charges in closely watched case

On December 11th, the Dallas Morning News reported that federal prosecutors have indicted local entrepreneur Justin Magnuson, his stepbrother Clay, and others in an alleged interstate marijuana-trafficking and money-laundering scheme involving millions of dollars.

Todd Shapiro is representing Clay Magnuson in the high-profile case. It takes place amid a backdrop of rapidly evolving changes in the law on marijuana regulation. In this post, we will inform you about the case.

Magnuson businesses

Justin Magnuson, 39, is a Southern Methodist University graduate who founded an innovative sleep-diagnostics company nearly a decade ago. The company used electrical devices to monitor brain activity. It also applied that technology to cardiology testing. In 2017, the company was sold to a private equity firm for $95 million.

Following this success, Justin Magnuson invested in other businesses, including a Dallas-area chain of spas and an area bar. He also bought real estate in in Northern California.

Justin Magnuson hired his stepbrother, Clay Magnuson, 26, for the spa chain. Clay, who like Justin is an SMU graduate, left a job with the Deloitte accounting firm to work with his brother.

Allegations of illegal growing and trafficking

Prosecutors claim Justin Magnuson used his private jet and local businesses to transport drugs and cash between Texas and illegal marijuana-grow operations in California. They also allege Clay Magnuson and others assisted in the efforts.

Todd Shapiro and other defense attorneys in the case strongly contend the marijuana growing on Justin Magnuson’s California property was legal. In 2016, California legalized recreational marijuana, creating a regulated cannabis cultivation industry. California also commuted hundreds of criminal sentences for marijuana-related convictions.

Changes in the law

California’s legalization of marijuana is part of a broader trend. Thirty-five states now permit marijuana for medical use and 15 states also allow recreational use under certain restrictions.

At the federal level, marijuana remains a controlled substance despite legalization in multiple states. In a landmark vote last week, however, the House of Representatives voted to legalize it. With the change to a new presidential administration, the changes in marijuana regulations are likely to continue.

Need for a strong defense

Meanwhile, there is still a need for a strong defense against marijuana charges that prosecutors continue to be bring. As one of the most skilled and respected defense attorneys in Texas, Todd Shapiro is providing such a defense for Clay Magnuson in this case.

Prosecutors allege the Magnuson brothers each had “go bags” full of guns and money, in case they needed to leave the country quickly for Mexico. But as Todd Shapiro told the Dallas Morning News, his client has a license to carry firearms and searches of Clay Magnuson’s car and apartment found nothing illegal.

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