MASS CITY MAN GETS OVER 11 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR SELLING POWERFUL “BATH SALTS”
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN – U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar sentenced three people for their involvement in distributing two powerful “bath salts” – alpha-pyrrolidinopentiphenone, which is commonly known as alpha-PVP, and pentylone – for human consumption in the Upper Peninsula.
Scott Bernard Will, age 56, of Mass City, Michigan, received a sentence of 137 months (11 ½ years) in federal prison. Last December, a federal jury in Marquette found Will guilty of distributing and conspiring to distribute alpha-PVP and pentylone in Baraga and Houghton Counties. In imposing the sentence, Judge Edgar commented on Will’s extensive criminal history, noting that Will was a “walking crime wave.” Also sentenced were Derrick John Guzek, age 34, also of Mass City, and Kristen Ellen Bergeron, age 31, of Pelkie, Michigan. Guzek received a sentence of 16 months in prison while Bergeron was sentenced to 18 months.
The term “bath salts” refers to a group of substances containing synthetic cathinones that all have similar chemical properties. These substances have a powerful amphetamine-like effect on the central nervous system when consumed. Synthetic cathinones are chemically similar to the natural drug cathinone, a drug that comes from khat plants in east Africa.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Will began selling bath salts in the Marquette area in 2011. He was jailed for his activities from June 2011 until November 2012. But, upon release from jail, he went back to selling the substances. Will’s sales of alpha-PVP and pentylone in Baraga and Houghton Counties in early 2013 drew the attention of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. An undercover officer made a number of purchases of these substances from Mr. Will and his co-conspirators in March and April 2013. He and his co-conspirators were arrested in April 2013. Guzek and Bergeron pled guilty and testified for the government. Will went to trial in Marquette on December 9, 2013.
As part of its case, the government presented testimony from users who said that the bath salts sold to them by Will were extremely powerful and addictive. They reported staying up for days after injecting the substances, and experiencing psychosis, paranoia and suicidal thoughts. Judge Edgar noted that the users were “physically wrecked by these drugs.”
The evidence at trial showed Will specifically targeted people with drug problems by offering the substances for free. Once the user was hooked, Will charged up to $200 per gram.
This case was investigated by the Michigan State Police as part of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maarten Vermaat and Paul D. Lochner prosecuted the case.