Six Fulton 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 businesses.
Jason Lee Houston, 38, of Fulton, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in federal prison without parole.
Co-defendant Raja Amer Nawaz, 43, of Roseville, California, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison without parole.
Houston and Nawaz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which was related to the distribution of K2. Houston also pleaded guilty to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy.
Nawaz and other conspirators in California sold K2 to several Callaway County businesses. Houston, one of the owners of those businesses, admitted he and other co-conspirators received at least 251 shipments of K2, primarily from Nawaz but also from other co-conspirators.
The conspiracy generated $6,656,843 in gross proceeds, according to court documents.
The packages of K2 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 K2 for the purpose of avoiding government regulation over these drugs and to protect the continued sale of these drugs.
All 13 defendants in this case have pleaded guilty.
Curtis Gonzales, 57, and Michael Butler, 41, both of Sacramento, were sentenced to six months in prison. Shawn Browning, 27; Timothy Sandfort, 31; Joshua Sheets, 32; and Brandon Rader, 33, all of Fulton, were sentenced to three months in prison. Dara Shirley, 31, of Fulton, was sentenced to five years of probation. Nawaz’s wife, Sheila Nawaz, 41, of Roseville, California, was placed on one year of probation.
Casey Miller, 33, of Columbia, was sentenced in November to nine months in prison. Billie Bruce, 37, of Jefferson City, was sentenced Feb. 9 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 K2 from locations in Auxvasse and Fulton. Esscentials Resale and S&J Tobacco sold K2 from locations in Holts Summit.
This case was investigated by the DEA Task Force — Jefferson City, the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Mustang Drug Task Force, the Callaway County Sheriff’s Department, the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, the Jefferson City Police Department, the Fulton Police Department and the Holts Summit Police Department.