Metro attorney and metro real estate broker charged in "ghost licensing" scheme to facilitate black-market marijuana operations


Date: April 10, 2024


OKLAHOMA CITY — Today, an eight-count indictment was unsealed, charging Matthew Alan Stacy of Blanchard, Chong Iu Phu and Chanh Iu Phu both of Edmond, for their roles in facilitating the black-market marijuana industry in Oklahoma, announced U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.

On April 2, 2024, a federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment, charging Matthew Alan Stacy, Chong Iu Phu (Phu), and Chanh Iu Phu (Chanh) with drug conspiracies. Additionally, the indictment charges Stacy with one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises, Phu with four counts of maintaining a drug-involved premises, and Chanh with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

The indictment alleges that Phu, a real estate broker, and Stacy, an attorney, conspired to aid and abet marijuana traffickers in Oklahoma by making false and fraudulent representations on applications for state licenses to operate marijuana farms—all on behalf of their black-market marijuana trafficker clients. Under Oklahoma law, to own and operate a medical marijuana grow, applicants must obtain a license through the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) and register with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBN). Oklahoma law also currently requires that any commercial marijuana grow is at least 75% owned by Oklahoma residents.

The indictment alleges that Phu and Stacy helped their clients evade these residency requirements and establish black-market marijuana farms. Court documents allege specific instances where Phu and Stacy either purchased, or facilitated the purchase of, Oklahoma residents’ personal identifying information—which Phu and Stacy then used on applications for OMMA licenses and OBN registrations that they submitted on behalf of persons who did not qualify to serve as majority owners and operators of commercial marijuana grows. The indictment specifically alleges that straw owners listed by Phu included an employee, as well as Phu’s parents.

The indictment further alleges that Phu, along with his brother Chanh, served as a one-stop-shop for marijuana traffickers from other states seeking to set up marijuana grows, many of which operated on the black market. In addition to carrying out the alleged ghost-licensing scheme, Phu is charged with using his brokerage firm and network of property-management and property-investment companies to service the housing and/or real estate needs of black-market marijuana traffickers by brokering land sales for them across Oklahoma, renting them land on which to operate their black-market marijuana grows, and renting them residences which served as marijuana stash houses and personal residences of the owners of black-market grows. The indictment also alleges that Phu and Chanh themselves were directly involved in the operation of black-market grows, and that Stacy rented land to individuals he knew were not licensed to grow and allowed the black-market operation to operate on his land.

If found guilty, Stacy, Phu, and Chanh all face up to life in federal prison.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The charges are the result of more than two years of statewide investigations led by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI), the Drug Enforcement Administration – Oklahoma City District Office, the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office, with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations, and OBN.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nick Coffey and Elizabeth M. Bagwell are prosecuting the case.

The public is reminded that these charges are merely allegations, and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.