A federal jury in Nebraska has found a Kansas man guilty of possessing an analogue drug for bath salts found in his car during a traffic stop in 2010 -- before bath salts were added to a list of controlled substances.
Steven Miles Sullivan, of Lawrence, Kan., was indicted in U.S. District Court in Lincoln after he was stopped for speeding in Otoe County on Oct. 27, 2010, and told the deputy he had K2 and a bag of bath salts in his vehicle.
Neither was illegal by state law at the time, although each is now.
Last week, the jury sided with the government in finding Sullivan guilty of possessing a "structural analogue" with intent to distribute.
In other words, it is substantially similar to the chemical structure of an illegal, controlled substance, has a stimulant, hallucinogenic or depressant effect on the central nervous system similar to the controlled substance and has a substantially similar effect on the human body as the controlled substance it mimics.
Defense attorney Glenn Shapiro argued that Sullivan was an innocent wholesaler who legitimately bought the product online -- when it was legal -- and was up front with law enforcement about having it.
He said the federal government didn't make it a controlled substance until this October, nearly a year after the stop.
Shapiro argued Sullivan did nothing wrong but was caught in the middle.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Svoboda said that all was a smoke screen.
"No one would buy that package for legitimate reasons," she argued.
A Drug Enforcement Administration chemist and pharmacologist testified about the chemical structure of bath salts and its effect on the central nervous system when ingested.
In the end, the jury found Sullivan guilty, but found that the $5,813 he had with him should not be subject to forfeiture, as the government sought.
His sentencing is set for March.
By LORI PILGER
Lincoln Journal Star
Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011
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