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Press Release

Fulton Man Pleads Guilty to $6.6 Million K2 Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Fulton, Mo., man has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than $6.6 million of synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2, at Callaway County, Mo., businesses.

Jason Lee Houston, 37, of Fulton, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Knox on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering; both conspiracies were related to the distribution of synthetic cannabinoids.

Houston, who operated First Stop Last Stop Pawn and Aromatherapy in Fulton, admitted that he contributed to the generation of approximately $4,544,700 of the total $6,656,843 in gross proceeds generated by the conspiracy from Dec. 18, 2012, to July 16, 2015.

Houston is among 10 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, 33, all of Fulton, and Michael James Butler, 40, of Sacramento, Calif., also pleaded guilty to participating in the mail fraud and money laundering conspiracies. Sheila Marie Nawaz, 40, of Roseville, Calif., 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. Houston acknowledged that his conduct directly contributed to the generation of approximately $4,544,700 of that total, which is subject to forfeiture to the government in the form of a money judgment. Houston also must forfeit his residence, which was proceeds from the conspiracy, to the government.

Houston, 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.

The packages of synthetic cannabinoids bore misbranded labels that 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.

Under federal statutes, Houston is subject to a sentence of up to 40 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.

Updated June 7, 2017

Drug Trafficking