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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 4, 2014

Kirbyville Man Sentenced for Distributing K2, Illegally Possessing Firearms

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced a Kirbyville, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in the distribution of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2, and for illegally possessing several firearms.

Christian L. Turner, 46, of Kirbyville, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to nine years in federal prison without parole.

On Nov. 14, 2013, Turner pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled substance analogue with the intent to distribute and to being a felon in possession of firearms.

Turner admitted that he aided and abetted co-defendants Travis E. Butchee, also known as “Donkey,” 38, of Springfield, and Michael J. Saguto, 44, of Kirbyville, to possess a controlled substance analogue with the intent to distribute. Saguto is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 11, 2014. A sentencing date has not been scheduled for Butchee.

Turner, who has been convicted of a felony, also admitted that he was in possession of a Ruger .22-caliber rifle, a Marlin 30-30 caliber rifle, a Rossi .243-caliber rifle with an interchangeable 20-gauge barrel, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a Remington .270-caliber rifle. Taney County sheriff’s deputies seized those firearms when they responded to an assault call on March 15, 2013. Turner was arrested and a search warrant was served on his residence. The following items were seized: the seven long guns and associated ammunition, drug paraphernalia, including 242 smoking pipes, and three bags of synthetic cannabinoids.

Butchee and Saguto have each pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to participating in a conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Butchee and Saguto conspired with others between March 1, 2011, and June 24, 2013, to defraud the Food and Drug Administration and to defraud the public by falsely representing that a number of synthetic cannabinoid products were “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption.” In reality, these substances contained compounds that were intended for human consumption as a drug. Butchee’s wife, Victoria A. Butchee, also known as Victoria A. Wohlin, 29, of Springfield, also has pleaded guilty to her role in the mail fraud conspiracy.

Travis Butchee and Saguto also admitted that they conducted financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the unlawful mail fraud conspiracy. They conspired to wire funds to the People’s Republic of China in order to carry out the money laundering conspiracy.

Based upon the invoices, ledgers, and product seizures by law enforcement, this conspiracy was responsible for the manufacture and/or distribution of at least 188.14038 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoid products.

Travis Butchee opened The Man Cave, a retail business at 1927 S.Glenstone in Springfield, in February 2013. Travis Butchee and Saguto are the owners of Southern Spice, LLC and Saguto is the owner of Blues Away, a head shop and novelty store in Memphis, Tenn. Turner was employed by Saguto at Blues Away.

Materials used to manufacture and distribute synthetic cannabinoids were shipped via UPS or FedEx to members of the conspiracy – including controlled substance analogues (synthetic chemical compounds similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), green leafy substances which served as carrier media, labels that were affixed to packages of “Donkey Punch,” “Jolly Grape Giant,” “South of the Tracks,” “Baby Face,” “Scarface,” “Hillbilly Hay,” and other synthetic cannabinoid products, and foil and plastic packaging bags.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, COMET (Combined Ozarks Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Team) and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.
Updated January 9, 2015