California Woman Pleads Guilty to $6.6 Million K2 Conspiracy
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Roseville, Calif., woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to her role in a conspiracy to distribute more than $6.6 million of synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2, at Callaway County, Mo., businesses.
Sheila Marie Nawaz, 40, of Roseville, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, to participating in a conspiracy to commit mail fraud from Dec. 18, 2012, to July 16, 2015.
Nawaz was the president of eComm Organix, Inc., a California distributor of “novelty products.” eComm Organix purchased synthetic cannabinoids from other businesses then distributed those synthetic cannabinoids to retail customers throughout the United States via the U.S. Postal Service.
By pleading guilty, Nawaz agreed that she accumulated approximately $806,260 in gross proceeds attributable to this conduct. Nawaz obtained approximately 179,169 grams of synthetic cannabinoids for distribution at approximately $4.50 per gram.
During the conspiracy, eComm Organix mailed approximately 2,359 retail packages of synthetic cannabinoids to customers in the state of Missouri. The labels on these synthetic cannabinoids misidentified the contents as “incense,” “aroma therapy” or “potpourri” that were “not for human consumption.” In fact, these products were drugs intended for human consumption as a drug. Conspirators mislabeled packages of synthetic cannabinoids for the purpose of avoiding government regulation over these drugs, and to protect the continued sale of these drugs.
Nawaz is among eight co-defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case. Shawn Michael Browning, 26, Timothy Christopher Sandfort, 31, Joshua Adam Sheets, 31, and Brandon Derek Rader, 32, all of Fulton, Mo., also pleaded guilty to participating in the mail fraud conspiracy as well as a money-laundering conspiracy during that time; both conspiracies were related to the distribution of synthetic cannabinoids. Dara Leanne Shirley, 31, of Fulton, pleaded guilty to participating in the money-laundering conspiracy. Casey Dewayne Miller, 32, of Columbia, and Billie L. Bruce, 36, of Jefferson City, each pleaded guilty to distributing synthetic cannabinoids.
According to court documents, the drug-trafficking conspiracy generated $6,656,843 in gross proceeds. Rader and Sandfort each acknowledged that his conduct directly contributed to the generation of approximately $4,544,700 of that total. Browning and Sheets each acknowledged that his conduct directly contributed to the generation of approximately $2,112,142 of that total.
Sandfort, Rader, Shirley, Miller and others operated First Stop Last Stop Pawn & Aromatherapy, Inscentives Resale and Inscentives Auto. First Stop Last Stop Pawn & Aromatherapy represented itself as a “pawn shop” and “potpourri store.” Inscentives Resale was represented to be a “buy, sell, and trade business.” Inscentives Auto held a Missouri motor vehicle dealer’s license. Browning, Sheets, Bruce and others operated Esscentials Resale and S&J Tobacco.
These businesses purchased synthetic cannabinoids from co-conspirators in California and Nevada. At least 251 shipments of synthetic cannabinoids were made via FedEx and UPS. Inscentives Resale sold synthetic cannabinoids from locations in Auxvasse, Mo., and Fulton. Esscentials Resale and S&J Tobacco sold synthetic cannabinoids from locations in Holts Summit, Mo.
Browning, Sandfort, Sheets, Rader and others obtained packages of synthetic cannabinoids from co-conspirators and periodically supplied each other with packages of synthetic cannabinoids for resale.
Under federal statutes, Nawaz is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the DEA Task Force – Jefferson City, DEA Sacramento, Calif., DEA Reno, Nev., IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the MUSTANG Drug Task Force, the Callaway County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Cole County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Jefferson City, Mo., Police Department, the Fulton, Mo., Police Department and the Holts Summit, Mo., Police Department.