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Former lobbyist pleads guilty in nationwide marijuana case


A former Missouri lobbyist pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a federal crime involving marijuana sales.

Eapen Thampy admitted to distribution of marijuana for helping broker a deal for 100 pounds of marijuana in February 2018. Thampy bought the marijuana from Craig Smith, an Oregon man federal authorities believe ran the nationwide operation that brought in millions of dollars over several years. Thampy was indicted along with several others in 2019, but released from jail shortly after his arrest.

Thampy faces a maximum of five years in prison.

The plea agreement said that Thampy and Osama Yanis, owner of downtown Columbia business Coffee Zone, set up the deal with a Kansas City distributor for 100 pounds of Smith's marijuana between Feb. 7 and Feb. 19, 2018 to bring to Columbia. Thampy then paid the distributor back for the marijuana over the course of the next several months, which law enforcement recorded by audio.

Thampy lobbied local and state government over issues surrounding marijuana issues, including the drug's legalization. Records with the Missouri Ethics Commission show he does not have any current clients.

Thampy's attorney Shawn Lee declined to comment on the plea.

Yanis pleaded guilty in 2019 to drug possession and unlawful possession of a weapon. Police searched his home on Feb. 19, 2018 after a shipping plant employee found a package containing marijuana addressed to Yanis' house. Law enforcement found marijuana and guns inside his home, and also arrested Yanis' son as part of the conspiracy.

Federal authorities have indicted dozens of people for the operation. Prosecutors believe Augustus Roberts, a man shot and killed in east Columbia in 2017, also helped distribute the marijuana. No one has been indicted for killing Roberts.

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Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.


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