Additional Charges, $1.3 Million Judgment against Springfield, Kirbyville Men Indicted for K2 Conspiracy
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that additional charges have been brought against a Springfield, Mo., man and two Kirbyville, Mo., men for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2, including a money judgment of more than $1.3 million.
Travis E. Butchee, also known as “Donkey,” 37, of Springfield, and Michael J. Saguto, 42, and Christian L. Turner, 45, both of Kirbyville, were charged in a 16-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. The superseding indictment replaces an indictment that was returned on June 12, 2013 and contains 10 additional counts of distributing a controlled substance and money laundering, as well as additional forfeiture allegations.
Butchee opened The Man Cave, a retail business at 1927 S.Glenstone in Springfield, in February 2013. Butchee and Saguto are the owners of Southern Spice, LLC and Saguto is the owner of Blues Away, a head shop and novelty store in Memphis, Tenn. Turner was employed by Saguto at Blues Away.
The superseding indictment maintains the allegation that Butchee, Saguto and Turner participated in a mail fraud conspiracy from March 1, 2011 to May 16, 2013. They allegedly devised a scheme to defraud the Food and Drug Administration and to defraud the public in order to profit from false claims that synthetic marijuana products (such as Blazed, Red Eyed, Donkey Punch, Jolly Grape Giant, South of the Tracks, Baby Face, Scarface, Hillbilly Hay and others) – which were mailed or delivered by commercial carriers – were “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption.” In reality, the indictment says, these substances were synthetic cannabinoids that contained controlled substances and were intended for human consumption as a drug.
The indictment also maintains the allegation that Butchee, Saguto and Turner participated in a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. They allegedly manufactured and distributed synthetic cannabinoids using ingredients obtained through the mail from China and Thailand.
In addition to the conspiracy, the superseding indictment now charges Butchee, Saguto and Turner in six counts of distributing a controlled substance.
The superseding indictment also charges Butchee and Saguto with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy from March 1, 2011, to May 16, 2013. Butchee and Saguto allegedly conducted financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the unlawful mail fraud conspiracy and the unlawful drug-trafficking conspiracy. They allegedly conspired to wire funds to the People’s Republic of China in order to carry on those conspiracies.
In addition to the conspiracy, Butchee and Saguto are charged in three counts of money laundering related to specific financial transactions in February 2013.
As in the original indictment, Butchee and Saguto are charged with three counts of maintaining a place for the purpose of unlawfully storing and distributing a controlled substance. They allegedly used residences in Kirbyville, Merriam Woods, Mo., and Springfield to store and distribute synthetic marijuana. Turner is also charged with being a felon in possession of firearms. Turner, having been convicted of a felony, allegedly possessed a Ruger .22-caliber rifle, a Marlin 30-30 caliber rifle, a Rossi .243-caliber rifle with an interchangeable 20-gauge barrel, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a Remington .270-caliber rifle.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Butchee, Saguto and Turner to forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of the alleged offenses. In the superseding indictment, that now includes a money judgment of $1,354,034, representing the total amount of money involved in the conspiracy. The forfeiture also includes $31,580 that was seized by law enforcement officers, four rifles and a shotgun.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, COMET (Combined Ozarks Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Team) and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.