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Press Release

Man Selling Fake Drugs Sent to Prison for Possessing Real Guns

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A drug user who was selling a cutting agent claiming it was methamphetamine was sentenced today to more than three years in federal prison.

Kyle Starbuck, age 32, from North Liberty, Iowa, received the prison term after a June 7, 2018, guilty plea to being a drug user in possession of a firearm.  At the guilty plea, Starbuck admitted he was an unlawful user of methamphetamine and heroin when he possessed a pistol. 

Information disclosed at the sentencing hearing showed that Starbuck attempted to buy a firearm in 2016 from a federally licensed firearms dealer, but was denied due to a recent conviction for an OWI.  Later, in August 2016, Starbuck purchased a pistol, which had been stolen out of a vehicle the month before.  He then acquired a rifle in October 2016. 

In May 2017, law enforcement searched Starbuck’s residence and seized a rifle, ammunition, and loaded magazines.  Starbuck was found that same day with almost 400 grams of MSM, a common cutting agent for methamphetamine, a loaded pistol, a second magazine of ammunition, and a bag with heroin residue.  For the three days prior, Starbuck was selling the MSM claiming it was methamphetamine.  During this time, Starbuck was a heavy user of methamphetamine and a regular user of heroin.

Starbuck was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade.  Starbuck was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority.  In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

Starbuck is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Johnson County Drug Task Force, the North Liberty Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lyndie Freeman and Emily Nydle. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 1:18-CR-00033-001.

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Updated October 10, 2018

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods