Berkeley Patients Group, a California medical marijuana dispensary operator, is suing the executive director of Augusta-based Northeast Patients Group for allegedly breaching her employment contract by failing to disclose negotiations with another financial backer.

The lawsuit against Rebecca DeKeuster and Northeast Patients Group was filed on July 6 in Cumberland County Superior Court and seeks repayment of $632,195 in loans. It also asks that the court order DeKeuster, of Augusta, to end her association with Northeast Patients Group.

The suit alleges that DeKeuster, while being paid by Berkeley, used confidential information to strike a deal with a new financial backer, and didn’t tell the California group about those talks.

She resigned in February, after signing a letter of intent with the new investor, a Rhode Island-based organization backed by former professional basketball player Cuttino Mobley.

The letter between Northeast and Mobley Pain Management and Wellness Center outlines terms that had been discussed, including a $2 million financial commitment from Mobley, as well as a $100,000 bridge loan effective upon the signing of the letter of intent, which is dated Feb. 23.

Mobley has provided Northeast with “some amount of money” to advance a cultivation site in Thomaston, which has been operational since June, according to Catherine Cobb, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services.

DeKeuster, who had worked for Berkeley Patients Group since 2004, was assigned in 2010 to lead the organization’s effort to open dispensaries in Maine. Northeast Patients Group formed, and, with funding from Berkeley, applied for and was awarded four of the state’s eight dispensary licenses.

Nearly a year later, those four clinics — which Northeast has said would be in Portland, Augusta, Thomaston and the Bangor area — are the only state-licensed dispensaries that have yet to open.

Cobb said the Thomaston dispensary should open soon, but Northeast hasn’t signed lease agreements on locations for the other three dispensaries.

DeKeuster did not return calls today.

Northeast’s lawyer, Dan Walker of Preti Flaherty, released a written statement in response to the lawsuit. He said that he and Northeast disagree with the facts presented and would file a response within a few weeks.

“We do expect to have necessary funding and support to open the dispensaries in the very near term,” Walker said.

Brad Sesnac, spokesman for Berkeley Patients Group, declined to comment on the lawsuit.


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