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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


BRADLEY J. SCHLOZMAN



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



MARCH 8, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OPERATION ICE PALACE

SPRINGFIELD BUSINESS CEO SENTENCED

IN METH-RELATED CONSPIRACY


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Bradley J. Schlozman, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the CEO of a Springfield, Mo., business was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine.


            Today’s sentence is the result of Operation Ice Palace, a long-term investigation into the illegal sale of large quantities of over-the-counter cold medications to methamphetamine manufacturers in southwest Missouri. Operation Ice Palace resulted in a series of indictments by a federal grand jury against a total of 53 defendants. Among the co-defendants in this case are a sales manager and four sales agents of Handi-Rak wholesale company, as well as the owners and employees of several convenience stores, who were charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield on March 31, 2004, and later replaced by superseding indictments.


            Roy James Hudspeth, 42, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Dean Whipple this morning to 20 years in federal prison without parole. Hudspeth was the vice president and CEO of Handi-Rak, a distributor of products to convenience stores.


            “Handi-Rak was the illegal source for a supply line of small stores throughout southern Missouri that conspired to provide huge quantities of ingredients to meth cooks,” Schlozman said. “This defendant represents the fountainhead of a narcotics scourge that flooded this part of the state and wreaked havoc on our community. He deserved this tough sentence, which is the statutory maximum penalty.”


            On Sept. 1, 2006, Hudspeth was found guilty by a federal jury of participating in a conspiracy to distribute pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine, in Greene, Barry, Camden, Jackson, McDonald, Ozark, Taney and Texas counties in Missouri from January 2001 to Nov. 13, 2003. Hudspeth was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering.


            In a separate but related case, also resulting from Operation Ice Palace, David L. Deputy, 54, of Powersite, Mo., owner of The Castle head shop in Forsyth, Mo., and D and D Distributors, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole. Deputy was found guilty by a federal jury of leading a criminal conspiracy to possess and distribute at least three kilograms of pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine, in Greene, Jasper, Taney, Barry, Lawrence, and Ozark counties in Missouri from May 2000 to June 4, 2003. Deputy used his wholesale company to distribute large amounts of pseudoephedrine products to convenience stores and other businesses in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas, Schlozman explained. Many of these stores in turn sold the pseudoephedrine to individuals who used it to manufacture methamphetamine. Deputy and employees at the Castle also sold large amounts of pseudoephedrine products directly to persons they knew were using it to manufacture methamphetamine. Thirteen co-defendants in that case have been sentenced after pleading guilty to charges contained in the federal indictment, including four of Deputy’s employees and the owners and employees of several convenience stores and liquor stores.


            Fourteen co-defendants of Hudspeth also have been sentenced after pleading guilty to charges contained in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield on March 31, 2004, and later replaced by superseding indictments. Among those co-defendants:


            * Gabriel Delossantos, 30, of Rogers, Ark., was sentenced on Aug. 3, 2006, to eight years and four months in federal prison without parole. On April 14, 2005, Delossantos pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to distribute pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Delossantos admitted that in October 2002 he had an agreement with others to obtain pseudoephedrine in order to provide it to individuals to manufacture methamphetamine. On Oct. 16, 2002, Delossantos purchased 2,568 pills of 30-milligram dosage pseudoephedrine, which he intended to distribute to others to make methamphetamine.


            * Benjamin Paine, 30, of Purdy, Mo., was sentenced on Nov. 10, 2005, to seven years and three months in federal prison without parole. On April 18, 2005, Paine pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine.


            * Michael Higgins, 49, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced on Oct. 31, 2006, to three years of probation. On June 3, 2005, Higgins pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to distribute pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Higgins, a sales agent for Handi-Rak, admitted that he assisted Hudspeth in the sale of pseudoephedrine-based cold tablets to various retail stores located in the Kansas City, Mo., area.


            * Charles Laffoon, 66, of Harrison, Ark., was sentenced on May 4, 2005, to three years of probation. On June 4, 2004, Laffoon pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to distribute pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Laffoon was a sales agent for Handi-Rak, a convenience store supply company from January 2001 until November 2003.


            * Louie M. Bunch, Jr., 36, of Springfield, was sentenced on Nov. 1, 2006, to three years of probation. Bunch pleaded guilty on May 13, 2005, to his role in the conspiracy to distribute pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Bunch, a sales manager for Handi-Rak, admitted that he assisted Hudspeth in the sale of pseudoephedrine-based cold tablets to various retail stores located in southwest Missouri. Hudspeth advised Bunch to falsify invoices in order to evade a company-imposed limit of 48 boxes per week sold to C and M Country Store in Willow Springs, Mo. On one occasion in May 2002, Schlozman said, Bunch sold 126 boxes of pseudoephedrine to the store. On another occasion that same month, Bunch sold 144 boxes of pseudoephedrine to the store. Based upon the circumstances of the sale, Schlozman said, Bunch had reasonable cause to believe that some of the pseudoephedrine sold to C and M was going to be sold to others who would use it in the production of methamphetamine.


            * Michael G. Williams, 37, of Springfield, was sentenced on Nov. 1, 2006, to three years of probation. Williams pleaded guilty on May 6, 2005, to his role in the conspiracy. Williams was a salesman for Handi-Rak. From January 2001 to July 2002, Williams supplied The Castle – a Taney County, Mo., head shop – with large amounts of pseudoephedrine. On April 11, 2002, Williams delivered 96 boxes of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine to The Castle, for which Handi-Rak was paid $249. During the time Williams was in the store, he talked to the store clerks about obtaining even more pseudoephedrine, in higher milligram dosages, for The Castle. The most readily provable amount that Williams was responsible for distributing is 40 to 70 grams of pseudoephedrine.


            * Troy K. Kelly, 35, of Gerard, Kan., was sentenced on Nov. 1, 2006, to three years of probation. Kelly pleaded guilty on April 22, 2005. Kelly was a sales agent for Handi-Rak.


            * Tracy J. VanBibber, 41, of Camdenton, Mo., was sentenced on Nov. 10, 2006, to three years and one month in federal prison without parole. On April 15, 2005, VanBibber pleaded guilty to distributing pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. VanBibber was an employee of County Corner Convenience Store in Sunrise Beach, Mo., in August 2002, when she sold a total of 360 pseudoephedrine pills to an undercover officer with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.


            * Norman R. Weaver, 46, of Seligman, was sentenced on Dec. 8, 2005, to two years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Weaver pleaded guilty on May 6, 2005, to his role in the conspiracy. Weaver is the owner of Norm’s Grocery Store and the Pit Stop in Seligman. Weaver admitted that he had an agreement with co-defendants Delossantos and Paine to distribute pseudoephedrine in order to have the pseudoephedrine be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Weaver admitted that he sold 2,568 pills of 30-milligram dosage pseudoephedrine to Delossantos and Paine on Oct. 16, 2002, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine.


            * Russell Brown, 44, of Seligman, Mo., was sentenced on Nov. 9, 2005, to one year in federal prison without parole. Brown was the manager of the Pit Stop in Seligman. On May 16, 2005, Brown pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy. Brown admitted that he had an agreement with others to obtain pseudoephedrine in order to provide it to individuals to use to manufacture methamphetamine. On Sept. 17, 2002, Brown was in possession of 720 pills of 30-milligram dosage pseudoephedrine to distribute to another person in order to manufacture methamphetamine.


            * Deborah Parker,46, address unknown, was sentenced on Dec. 8, 2006, to five years of probation. Margaret Vinson, 35, of Garfield, Kan., was sentenced on Dec. 7, 2006, to five years of probation. Parker and Vinson each pleaded guilty on May 13, 2005, to distributing pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Parker and Vinson were employees at the Missouri Package Store in Seligman, which had reportedly sold large amounts of pseudoephedrine to persons who were using it to manufacture methamphetamine. Based on those reports, undercover law enforcement officers visited the store on Aug. 14, 2002. During that visit, Parker and Vinson offered to sell the entire inventory of pseudoephedrine products contained in the store. Parker and Vinson then sold the officers 780 pseudoephedrine tables of various dosages, for which the officers paid $157.


            * Gerri Deering, 49, of Shell Knob, Mo., was sentenced on Dec. 8, 2006, to five years of probation. Deering pleaded guilty on April 18, 2005, to her role in the conspiracy. Deering admitted that, while employed at Rapid Roberts in Shell Knob, Mo., she sold a total of 936 pseudoephedrine pills of 30- and 60-milligram dosage to an undercover officer with the Missouri State Highway patrol in July and August of 2002.


            * William Blair, 73, of Bradleyville, Mo., was sentenced on Dec. 8, 2006, to three years of probation. Blair pleaded guilty on May 13, 2005, to distributing pseudoephedrine, knowing that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Blair is the owner of Billy Jack’s Package Store in Bradleyville.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. Operation Ice Palace was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, COMET (the Combined Ozarks Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Team), the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Lawrence County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Ozark County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Arkansas State Police, and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html