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Owner of Camp Zoe pleads guilty to federal drug charges

June 12, 2012

Cape Girardeau, MO - JAMES TEBEAU pled guilty to one felony count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. He has also agreed to forfeit to the United States approximately 350 acres in Shannon County, Missouri. Tebeau appeared before United States District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., this morning in Cape Girardeau to enter his plea.

According to the plea and court documents, from 2004 until October 2010, Tebeau managed a campground consisting of approximately 350 acres known as Camp Zoe. Tebeau used Camp Zoe as a location to hold various weekend music festivals known as "Schwagstock" or "Spookstock" festivals. Those festivals would normally be held from April through October on a monthly basis, and would last for three days. He would arrange for various bands to come to Camp Zoe and Tebeau would also perform with his band, "The Schwag Band." Tebeau advertised these festivals in various publications, and was aware that the term "schwag" was a slang term for low-grade marijuana. He purposely adopted that name for his music festivals and band.

Tebeau charged each person who attended a music festival $60 admission for entrance to Camp Zoe for the three-day festival. Each person who paid admission had an armband placed on their wrist by a Camp Zoe employee. The number of people who attended each festival ranged from a low of 3,600 campers during April festivals to a high of nearly 8,000 campers for the festivals in May, for an average of 5,000. The campers parked their vehicles in fields on Camp Zoe and camped in tents and small personal camping trailers.

In August 2006, the Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested two individuals who had been selling illegal mushrooms at Camp Zoe. In the ensuing investigation over the next four years, officers made over 150 undercover purchases of illegal drugs that included marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, ecstacy, cocaine, LSD, MDMA, opium, moonshine liquor and products such as homemade cookies and cakes containing hashish oil. Officers observed 100 to 200 drug sellers at each festival, and estimated that the total amount of illegal drugs sold in the camp during a typical Schwagstock festival was approximately $500,000 per event.

Tebeau admitted that he was responsible for the operation of the camp. While Tebeau did not participate in any drug sales, he admitted that he was aware of the drug use and had instructed his employees that certain types of drugs were permissible in the campground, like marijuana, LSD and mushrooms, but had instructed them to eject persons who sold crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin or nitrous oxide gas. Tebeau did not participate in any drug sales nor did he receive any funds from the sale of any controlled substances.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, the parties agreed that the defendant’s sentence should be 30 months imprisonment, but the agreement also allows Tebeau to appeal the District Court’s denial of his Motion to Dismiss the Indictment. As part of that agreement, the government conceded that Tebeau did not himself have the intent to sell or use controlled substances, but Tebeau admits that he intended that Camp Zoe be made available for sellers and users of controlled substances.

The Plea Agreement must still be approved by the District Court after the Presentence Report has been completed and sentencing has been set for September 4, 2012.

This case was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Shannon County Sheriff's Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Keith D. Sorrell is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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