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Justice News

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

Staten Island Man Found Guilty In Synthetic Drug Case

Stephen McFadden Was Supplying Local Video Store Operator With "Bath Salts"

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA -- A Staten Island man accused of supplying a local video store operator with synthetic drugs commonly known as “bath salts” was found guilty late Thursday evening of a variety of related charges following a four-day jury trial in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Stephen Dominick McFadden, 52, of Staten Island, New York, was indicted in February 2012 on one charge of conspiracy to distribute three separate controlled substance analogues and eight counts of distributing controlled substance analogues. On Thursday evening, a federal jury found the defendant guilty of all nine charges.

“This verdict demonstrates that synthetic drugs, or bath salts, are illegal to buy and sell under federal law,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “The analogue statute provides a powerful weapon to prosecute bath salt distribution, and we will use that weapon as part of a broad strategy to reduce the use of these dangerous substances. We must combine our investigation and prosecution of those who traffic synthetic substances with education and inform the public about the volatility of synthetic drugs. People should be aware that use of these substances may place you in federal prison or a hospital.”

According to evidence presented during the four-day trial by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Huber and Special Assistant United States Attorney and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Charlottesville, Joe Platania, McFadden was the primary source of bath salts for Lois McDaniel, a local distributor of the drugs and former owner of C-ville Video, the venue from which she, and her employees, sold bath salts. McDaniel previously pleaded guilty to federal drug conspiracy charges associated with her involvement with McFadden.

Evidence showed that McDaniel ordered bath salts from McFadden via text messages and the telephone every week or two. After receiving the order, McFadden would overnight ship the bath salts from Staten Island to Charlottesville. The jury heard evidence that McFadden was obtaining these substances from China. After hearing recorded phone calls during the trial, the jury concluded that McFadden and McDaniel were conspiring together to distribute the bath salts. Through other evidence, including expert witness testimony, the jury also found that the bath salts at issue in this case had similar chemical structures to controlled substances. The government also proved that McFadden knew the bath salts he was sending to Charlottesville were for human consumption and produced similar physical effects on users as controlled substances.

In addition to McDaniel, Dustin Wayne Orange, of Charlottesville, previously pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the sale of bath salts. Orange has admitted to selling bath salts while working at C-ville Video.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Investigations Division of the Charlottesville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Huber and Special Assistant United States Attorney Joe Platania prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated April 15, 2015