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The man testifies in his own trial in marijuana resort case

FLANDREAU, S. D. – A man on trial for his alleged role in a marijuana grow room on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation, testified Tuesday that he had visited the facility only three times, as officers tried to tie him to the day-to-day management of the operation.

Eric Hagen, president of Monarch America, worked with the Santee Sioux Tribe on the operation about 45 miles north of Sioux Falls, after the Ministry of Justice cleared the way for Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as a number of states that have legalized pot.

The tribe eventually destroyed his crop in November 2015, after federal officials signaled a possible raid. Hedges and fellow consultant, Jonathan Hunt were charged about nine months later. Hagen, 34, of Sioux Falls, has pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to possess, possession and attempted possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana.

Hagen testified Tuesday that when the tribe destroyed the crop in 2015, he ran away, according to the Argus Leader .

When tribal leaders initially touted their plan to open the resort on tribal land in Flandreau, President Anthony Reider said that they wanted it to be “a playground for adults.” She projected as much as $2 million in monthly profits, with ambitious plans, a smoking lounge with a nightclub, a bar and food service, and eventually an outdoor music theater. They wanted to use the money for community services and provide income to tribal members.

Hagen testified Tuesday that the Monarch, the agreement with the tribe was limited only to the growing facility, and had nothing to do with the smoke lounge. Hagen said the Monarch was in business with other tribes, but he also admitted that both the Monarch and the Flandreau Santee Sioux stood to earn money if marijuana resort idea come from.

The jury is expected to get the case Wednesday after closing arguments.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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