News and Press Releases

Head Shop Owner Indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute "Spice"

November 16, 2012

Three Other Boise Head Shop Owners Sentenced

BOISE – A federal grand jury in Boise yesterday returned a superseding indictment charging William Oldenburg, 65, of Eagle, Idaho, with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue; possession with intent to distribute and distributing a controlled substance analogue; and conspiracy to launder money, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. The new charges are in addition to those previously filed, including conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia; offering drug paraphernalia for sale; sale of drug paraphernalia; and conspiracy to structure transactions. Oldenburg is the owner and operator of Boise Beverage and Tobacco. Also charged in the superseding indictment is co-defendant Donovan Johns, 38, of Meridian, Idaho, for conspiracy to sell, offer for sale, and transport drug paraphernalia; offer drug paraphernalia for sale; and conspiracy to structure transactions. Johns is the co-owner and operator of Boise Beverage and Tobacco.

In a separate case, the grand jury also indicted Kirk Farrar, owner and operator of Piece of Mind, another Boise area head shop owner. Farrar was indicted on one count of conspiracy to sell, offer for sale, and transport drug paraphernalia and one count of offering drug paraphernalia for sale.

“This ongoing law enforcement operation should send a strong message that if you're selling spice under any name or packaging, if you’re promoting unlawful drug use that helps drug traffickers thrive, you need to stop,” said Olson. “Federal, state and local law enforcement in Idaho are committed to using all available tools and resources to keep dangerous synthetic substances out of communities throughout the state. We are committed to attacking drug trafficking on all fronts. Although we don't yet know the full toll that these substances that mimic cannabis have taken on users, we do know that emergency room workers, parents and law enforcement officers all have terrifying stories of medically dangerous and sometimes deadly reactions. In Idaho, we are proud to stand with DEA and our colleagues throughout the nation in taking these strong steps to combat this growing drug problem.”

The charges of conspiracy to sell, offer for sale, and transport drug paraphernalia; offering drug paraphernalia for sale; and sale of drug paraphernalia are each punishable by up to three years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to one year of supervised release. All the indictments include a forfeiture allegation. In addition to the conspiracy charges, Oldenburg and Johns also face up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $500,000, and up to three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to structure financial transactions. Oldenburg also faces up to 20 years in prison on each count involving the distribution of controlled substance analogue, a maximum fine of $1 million, and at least three years of supervised release. He faces up to 20 years imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and not more than five years of supervised release for conspiracy to launder money.

Oldenburg and Farrar are among the 17 charged earlier this year as part of Operation Not for Human Consumption, which targeted illegal sales of drug paraphernalia and “spice” at 13 Treasure Valley businesses. According to search warrant affidavits, nine of the 13 businesses were openly selling "spice," a substance that tested positive for AM-2201. The DEA has determined that AM-2201 is a controlled substance analogue. "Spice," a synthetic form of cannabis, which is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product that, when consumed, mimics the effects of cannabis. In the spring of 2011, the Idaho Legislature criminalized the sale of “spice” under state law. In March of 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration placed five synthetic cannabinoids into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It is against federal law to sell or offer for sale any paraphernalia that is primarily intended or designed for drug use, regardless of whether the seller advises their customers that the paraphernalia is for tobacco use only. The businesses are commonly referred to as "head shops."

Early this month, three Boise area head shop owners were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill for offering drug paraphernalia for sale. On November 7, Gabriel Adam Busby was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to complete 300 hours of community for offering drug paraphernalia for sale. He pleaded guilty to the offense on August 20. On November 13, Busby’s co-defendant, Bradley Berquist, was sentenced to three years of probation, fined $1,500, and ordered to serve six months of home detention. He pleaded guilty on August 30. Busby and Berquist were the owners and operators of the head shop Twenty After, previously located in Boise. Both Busby and Berquist agreed to forfeit $82,990 worth of drug paraphernalia, which was seized from their business on May 10, 2012. On November 13, Judge Winmill sentenced Yoke Fee Chan to three years of probation and ordered him to pay a $1,500 fine. He pleaded guilty to the charge on August 29.

Seven defendants are awaiting sentencing, including Anthony Stoner, owner and operator of Smoke N Accessories, LLC, on December 17; Janet Shirley, owner and operator of All Sunshine, LLC, and Antonio Mendoza, an employee of All Sunshine, LLC, on January 7; Adam Daniel Schreiner, owner/operator of Bernen's Pipe Shop, LLC, on December 4; Hannah Farrar, employee of Piece of Mind, on December 10, 2012; and Crystal and Thomas Blumke, owners and operators of Other World Gallery, on November 29 and December 10. Raj Singh, owner/manager of Wonderland Hookah and Tobacco Shop is set for a change of plea on December 10.

Ali Kathem, Jennifer Dixon, Troy A. Rawlings, and Jason Guerrero are set for jury trials over the next few months.

Operation Not for Human Consumption includes the cooperative law enforcement efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Boise Police Department, Ada County Sheriff's Office, Canyon County Sheriff's Office, Nampa Police Department, Meridian Police Department, and the Canyon County Prosecutor's Office. The U.S. Marshals Service and Idaho State Police provided assistance.

An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.