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Sat May 8, 2021, 07:47 PM

Aide to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Charged in Alleged Scheme to Extort Money For Hemp License

A top political aide to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller was arrested this week for allegedly running a scheme to illegally solicit money and contributions in exchange for hemp licenses that are issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA).

According to court documents first obtained by the Texas Tribune, that aide, Todd Smith, personally received $55,000 as part of a larger scheme that amassed a total of $150,000 by essentially selling access to “guaranteed” hemp licenses. He is now facing charges of third-degree felony theft.

The Texas legislature in 2019 passed HB 1325 to legalize the production of hemp under a state-regulated system overseen by the TDA.

The alleged scheme was exposed after a man named Andre Vinson told Keenan Williams, one of Smith’s associates, that he had good connections with farmers and people in the Cannabidiol (CBD) business and was interested in getting involved in the hemp industry. Williams, who acted as a middle man between Vinson and Smith, told him he would need to provide cash up front to make that happen.


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