Fulton Residents Among 10 Defendants Sentenced for $6.6 Million K2 Conspiracy
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Timothy A. Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that six Fulton, Mo., residents were among 10 co-defendants sentenced in federal court for their roles 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, 38, of Fulton, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, to seven years in federal prison without parole. Co-defendant Raja Amer Nawaz, also known as “Rex,” 43, of Roseville, Calif., was sentenced to eight years in federal prison without parole.
Both Houston and Nawaz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which was related to the distribution of synthetic cannabinoids. Houston also pleaded guilty to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy.
Nawaz and other conspirators in California sold synthetic cannabinoids to several Calloway County businesses. Houston, one of the owners of those businesses, admitted that he and other co-conspirators received at least 251 shipments of synthetic cannabinoids, primarily from Nawaz but also from other co-conspirators. According to court documents, the conspiracy generated $6,656,843 in gross proceeds.
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.
Houston and Nawaz were among 10 defendants who were sentenced in separate hearings on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. All 13 defendants in this case have pleaded guilty.
Curtis Whayne Gonzales, 57, and Michael James Butler, 41, both of Sacramento, California, were each sentenced to six months in prison. Shawn Michael Browning, 27, Timothy Christopher Sandfort, 31, Joshua Adam Sheets, 32, and Brandon Derek Rader, 33, all of Fulton, were each sentenced to three months in prison. Dara Leanne Shirley, 31, of Fulton, was sentenced to five years of probation. Nawaz’s wife, Sheila Marie Nawaz, 41, of Roseville, was sentenced to one year of probation.
Casey Dewayne Miller, 33, of Columbia, Mo., was sentenced on Nov. 30, 2017, to nine months in prison. Billie L. Bruce, 37, of Jefferson City, Mo., was sentenced on Feb. 9, 2017, to time served. Aleksandr Polyanskiy, 35, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.
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.
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.
Between Jan. 16, 2013, and April 18, 2015, Nawaz received at least $1,986,442 as payment for synthetic cannabinoids from Houston, Sandfort, and Rader, through First Stop Last Stop Pawn & Aromatherapy, Inscentives Resale and Inscentives Auto.
Between Jan. 16, 2013, and April 18, 2015, Nawaz received at least $932,965 as payment for synthetic cannabinoids from Browning and Sheets through Esscentials and S&J Tobacco.
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.