Federal Jury Convicts Brothers In Synthetic Drug Distribution Conspiracy
Defendants Made And Distributed “Spice” To Various “Smoke Shops” And Convenience Stores
DALLAS — A federal jury in Dallas has convicted two brothers on multiple felony offenses stemming from their operation of a dangerous, designer synthetic drug trafficking organization, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Following a nearly two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle, Barry Bays, 43, and his brother, Jerad Coleman, 28, both of Fort Wayne, Indiana, were convicted on all counts of a fourth superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in July 2014. The charges stem from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Project Synergy that targeted these synthetic drug trafficking organizations.
Specifically, Bays and Coleman were each convicted on one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud; and one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue. In addition, Bays was also convicted on one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and one count of using a communication facility to facilitate a drug felony.
Seven other defendants charged in the case have pleaded guilty to their respective roles: Samuel Madeley, 22, of Denton, Texas; David Muise, 23, of Londonderry, New Hampshire; Holden Bownds, 23, of Denton; and Aaron Parrish, 31, Jennie Miller, 41, Kyle Boyer, 31, and Brandon Zerler, 26, all of Fort Wayne. Miller was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison for acting as a “straw purchaser” of the firearm possessed by Bays during the drug conspiracy. The other defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in the upcoming months.
Bays owned Little Arm, Inc., that did business as B&B Distribution (B&B) in Fort Wayne and then later in Defiance, Ohio. B&B sold products marketed as “incense,” “potpourri,” “air freshener,” or “aroma therapy products,” which claimed to be “not for human consumption,” to businesses in at least 38 states. Coleman served as a corporate officer for B&B and held various positions within the business.
The government presented evidence that during the conspiracy, Bays, Coleman and others conspired together to defraud the FDA by introducing or delivering an adulterated or misbranded drug into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead. As part of the conspiracy, Bays, Coleman and others possessed, packaged, labeled, marketed, distributed and sold substances containing various synthetic cannabinoids throughout the U.S. Synthetic cannabinoids are defined as “drugs” under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).
After acquiring the synthetic cannabinoids, Bays and B&B had them mixed with a green leafy (smokable) plant material to create a product commonly referred to as “spice.” That substance was then packaged and labeled with brand names such as “B2 Da Bomb,” “V8,” “Roses,” and “Street Legal.” The products were then sold to customers throughout the U.S. as “incense,” “potpourri,” “air freshener,” or “aroma therapy products,” and “not for human consumption,” when in fact, they were intended for human consumption as a drug.
During trial, the government introduced evidence that Bays had contracted with Muise for Muise to create multiple YouTube videos, reviewing Bays’ “spice” products. Muise’s reviews documented the intended use of Bays’ products as drugs.
Madeley and Bownds collaborated and collectively brokered the sale of Scheduled I controlled substance analogues. They solicited customers via the internet and knew the chemicals they were brokering were being used to produce “spice” intended for human consumption. Madeley and Bownds made multiple sales to Bays and B&B, where he made his own brands of synthetic “spice” and distributed it to various “smoke shops” and convenience stores throughout the U.S.
Bays and Coleman remain in federal custody. A sentencing date has not been set.
The maximum statutory penalties are: conspiracy to defraud the U.S. – three years and a $250,000 fine; conspiracy to commit mail fraud – 20 years and a $250,000 fine; conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue – 20 years and a $1 million fine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime – mandatory five years and a $250,000 fine; and use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug felony – four years and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation that requires the defendants to forfeit their proceeds from the offenses as well as vehicles, a residence on Tillman Road in Fort Wayne, and approximately $437,000 in funds seized by the government during the investigation.
The DEA led the investigation with assistance from the Fort Wayne Police Department, Indiana State Police, and the Denton County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Poe and Brandon McCarthy are prosecuting.