Woman charged with running multi-million dollar illegal cannabis business

BOSTON — A Milton woman was arrested and charged in connection to a black-market marijuana delivery service.

Deana Martin, 51, allegedly owned and operated Northen Herb, an illegal cannabis retailer that employed at least 25 people.

Martin was charged with one count of conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilograms of weed.

According to officials, Northern Herb operated through an online site, selling a plethora of marijuana products such as raw marijuana, pre-rolled cigarettes and edibles. While the business claimed to sell medical marijuana, it did not require customers to show proof of a medical card.

Prosecutors also allege Northern Herb would deliver cannabis to unattended locations, such as hallways and front doors, where others could have access to them. The business used locations in Canton, Milton, Foxborough and Hyde Park to store and distribute marijuana.

It is also alleged Martin planned to incentivize her sales team based on establishing a monthly quota for cannabis sales, such as selling more than 10 pounds of marijuana per month.

Martin's attorney, Boston 25 News legal analyst Brad Bailey, said she's denying the allegations against her, and they're preparing for what's next in her defense.

"Clearly, these are serious allegations," Bailey said. "We do anticipate an indictment down the line, and once she’s in court for arraignment on that, she will be pleading not guilty to whatever charges she’s indicted on."

From May 2016 through July 2018, Northern Herb raked in a whooping $14 million, where authorities said Martin claimed an income of $80,000 for herself. Martin allegedly laundered the funds obtained through Northern Herb and funneled them through numerous bank accounts she controlled.

Prosecutors said the accounts were under someone else's name, this way Martin could fly under the radar and hide the money from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Martin allegedly used the money made from her illicit business to pay off more than $300,000 towards her mortgage and buy a 2017 Porsche Boxster, among other things.

It is further alleged that Northern Herb did not withhold or pay taxes on its millions of dollars in marijuana sales. In an email referencing cannabis taxes charged by one state government, Martin wrote: “Zero taxes is still better.”

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Authorities add that Martin would pay her employees under the table and her business did not remit or pay employment taxes in connection with its workforce nor did it issue them W-2s or 1099s.

"These are serious allegations that carry heavy penalties and we have every intention of fighting aggressively and presenting as solid a defense as we can possibly present," Bailey said.

If convicted, Milton is looking at a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison.

She is due back in court on April 16th for a probable cause hearing. According to her lawyer, Martin plans to plead not guilty.