California Woman Pleads Guilty To Operating Wholesaler Of Synthetic Cannabinoids
Janell Thompson Was the Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer, and Co-Owner of a Business that Distributed Large Quantities of Smokeable Synthetic Cannabinoids
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JANELL THOMPSON, the former vice-president, chief financial officer, and co-owner of a consumer products wholesaler based in California, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to using her business to distribute massive wholesale quantities of smokeable synthetic cannabinoids throughout the U.S. and to laundering the proceeds of that scheme.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Janell Thompson’s position as a company CFO and vice president masked her true identity: a drug trafficker and money launderer. Through her wholesale company, Thompson distributed massive quantities of illegal and potentially dangerous synthetic cannabinoids throughout the U.S. Thompson now faces 40 years in prison for her crimes.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Information, other documents filed in the case, and statements made in court:
From February 2014 until February 2019, THOMPSON was the vice-president, chief financial officer, and co-owner of JK Wholesale LLC, a consumer products retailer based in Carlsbad, California. During that time period, THOMPSON used JK Wholesale LLC and its affiliated corporate entities to operate a scheme to distribute large quantities of smokeable synthetic cannabinoids (“SSC”), containing controlled substances and controlled substance analogues, throughout the U.S. SSC, colloquially referred to as “K2” or “Spice,” can be addictive, but are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to marijuana. In fact, SSC are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.
Some of the SSC distributed by THOMPSON’s scheme were branded with colorful graphics and distinctive names, including “Yolo.” The branded SSC sometimes were misleadingly marketed as “herbal incense.” Other of the SSC were distributed in bulk quantities.
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THOMPSON, 42, of Carlsbad, California, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and a controlled substance analogue and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
THOMPSON is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Buchwald on January 27, 2019.
In addition to THOMPSON, four other defendants have been charged in this case:
On January 31, 2019, Jonathan Riendeau, 39, of Port Saint Lucie, Florida, pled guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement with the Government before Judge Buchwald to six counts: three counts of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues; two counts of unlawful importation of controlled substances and controlled substance analogues; and one count of unlawfully distributing a controlled substance. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Riendeau’s sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
On April 23, 2019, Jade Plante, 40, of Port Saint Lucie, Florida, pled guilty before Judge Buchwald to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogues. On August 7, 2019, Plante was sentenced by Judge Buchwald to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $100,000.
On February 7, 2019, Daniel Borer, 42, of Adams, Massachusetts, and Josephine McLaughlin, 65, of Stoneham, Massachusetts, were charged in a Superseding Indictment with three counts of conspiring to unlawfully import and distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Trial has not yet been scheduled for Borer and McLaughlin.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Police Department, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and Homeland Security Investigations. He also thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina for their assistance. The long-term investigation of this case was partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federal grant program that invests in law enforcement partnerships to build safe and healthy communities.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel G. Nessim and Robert B. Sobelman are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and Borer and McLaughlin are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.