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Press Release

Drug Dealer Prosecuted In Federal Court For "Designer" Or "Bath Salt" Substances Called Analogues

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

PITTSBURGH - A Beaver County resident pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Michael Anthony Stokes, 27, of New Brighton, Pa., pleaded guilty to eight counts before United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on March 12, 2011, New Brighton Police observed an apparent drug purchaser leaving the residence of Stokes and Ryan Konarski. The marijuana purchaser was apprehended and confirmed that he bought from that residence, (about a block from the police station). Police obtained a state search warrant and located not only marijuana and indicia that it was being both used and sold there, but over 900 grams of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethcathinone, a so called "bath salt" commonly known as methylone or "Molly", typically used at Rave-type gatherings. Police also located empty capsules and handguns in both Stokes' and Konarski's bedrooms, along with money orders and common carrier packages indicating the methylone was coming from China.

Drug suppliers, especially those involved in Rave-type drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA), will often tweak the chemical manufacturing process causing minor modifications to the chemical formula of the end product. The result is a product that is not yet specifically listed as a controlled substance. Congress closed this loophole by creating the analogue statute at 21 U.S.C. '802(32), which essentially makes these new "designer" or "bath salt" creations a Schedule I drug if they are similar to an already controlled substance and are intended for human consumption.

Both Stokes and Konarski were prosecuted for the felony marijuana charges in state court, but since Pennsylvania has no "analogue" statute these other actions went un-prosecuted. Stokes received "Intermediate Punishment" where he served six months’ house arrest followed by probation. Law enforcement then received information that Stokes was again dealing drugs once off of house arrest.

When Stokes was arrested on the federal charges by DEA on March 14, 2013, drugs and other items were again located at the same drug house. These indicate that Stokes was still dealing. The drugs located were MDMA [ecstasy], DMT and Methylone. Methylone was included as a Schedule I drug on Oct. 21, 2011.

Ryan Konarski previously pleaded guilty. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22, 2014, at 11 a.m.

Judge Fischer scheduled Stokes’ sentencing for Aug. 6, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 160 years in prison, a fine of $7,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the New Brighton Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Michael Anthony Stokes.

Updated July 14, 2015