- Associated Press - Friday, April 18, 2014

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A lobbyist who once worked for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper is the target of a lawsuit accusing him of breach of contract in efforts to establish Delaware’s first medical marijuana dispensary.

Former Lewes city Councilman A. Judson Bennett claims in the lawsuit that he hired Mark Lally, a retired state trooper and Carper’s former Sussex County director, to help him try to obtain a license for opening a “compassionate care” center following passage of Delaware’s medical marijuana law in 2011.

But Bennett claims that as this month’s deadline for submitting bid proposals to state officials approached, Lally, without Bennett’s knowledge, began working with a New England group that also is trying to land the contract.

Bennett claims his contract with Lally prevented him from trying to help any competing enterprise.

Lally said Friday that the lawsuit has no merit, but he refused to discuss specific allegations or facts in the complaint without first talking to his attorney.

“The allegations in the lawsuit are false and without any basis in fact,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Bennett has brought this suit, but he is a delusional man.”

Bennett said he was personally disappointed in Lally, to whom he has paid more than $40,000.

“I thought he was my friend,” he said.

Documents filed with the lawsuit this week indicate that Bennett hired Lally in October 2011, agreeing to pay him $25,000 for one year and requiring him not to represent any “actual or potential” competing parties. Bennett and his business partner, Jeffrey Siskind, entered into a similar agreement with Lally in January 2013. That agreement called for Lally to be paid $1,000 a month for at least six months, and for him to receive 10 percent of the net profits of any medical marijuana enterprise.

Lally shall refrain from assisting others in a similar enterprise unless and until Siskind and Bennett withdraw from pursuing said licensing….” the agreement reads.

But Bennett claims that during a meeting in Florida in February to discuss plans for submitting a bid, Lally asked whether he would be interested in a joint venture with a representative of a group that helped develop the Slater Compassion Center in Providence, R.I., which has been described as the largest state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary in New England.

Bennett says that after he opted last month not to enter into the joint venture, Lally beginning working covertly with the New England group.

Court documents show that Lally submitted a request for zoning certification to New Castle County officials on April 2, on behalf of the competing entity, regarding operating a medical marijuana facility on property that Bennett claims he had proposed as the site for a compassionate care center.

“They knew he was under contract with me…. It was just nefarious, the way they operated,” Bennett said.

Bennett also said a receipt book shows that Lally submitted a bid response to state officials on behalf of the competing group, which Bennett said is one of seven entities vying for the marijuana dispensary license.

State officials are scheduled to select a winning bidder by the end of the month.

“I may not get it, but I sure as hell don’t want him to get it on my nickel,” Bennett said.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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