An Ashland man has been charged with lacing apple juice he gave to three dinner guests with a synthetic form of ketamine, an animal anesthetic that is also used on humans.
The drug, methoxetamine, has been sold as a “designer drug” through the Internet, and is commonly known as “mexxy” or “MXE,” has been identified as a drug of abuse both in the United States and Europe, and is now illegal in many jurisdictions.
According to a criminal complaint issued by Ashland County District Attorney Kelly McKnight, Steven John Krueger, 55, has been charged with three counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety and three counts of distributing a hazardous substance.
Krueger was arrested on April 1, shortly after police were dispatched to the Bayview Motel to investigate a complaint that someone had been drugged during dinner.
According to the probable cause statement, police officers responding to the scene spoke with Krueger who admitted that he had mixed apple juice with the drug, telling officers he hoped to “heal” the three adults, who he said were victims of alcoholism.
Krueger showed officers the drug, which was contained in a small plastic bag labeled with the drug’s name and a statement “Not for human consumption.”
Krueger told the officers that he had obtained the drug through the Internet, and that he knew it was an illegal substance.
“The defendant stated that he was sorry that the victims were going through this right now, but that they would be fine in a few hours,” the probable cause statement said. “He stated that he gave it to the victims to ‘try to heal their neurons.’ ”
He also admitted that he had not managed the dose properly and had given the victims too much of the substance. He also said that he had not told the victims that he was giving them the drug.
Officers also spoke with the victims who reported symptoms including disorientation, nausea and hallucinations. They said they thought they had been poisoned.
All three of the victims were taken to Memorial Medical Center (MMC), where one was treated and released, and one was released the following day. The third victim was kept at MMC until April 4, suffering from nausea, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate of up to 200 beats a minute. One victim said he had hallucinations about being tormented by demons, while another described seeing a large yellow school bus and people he had not seen for 20 years, became dizzy and blacked out. The first victim said the experience was “horrible” and that he continued to cry when he thought about it.
Both of the charges faced by Krueger are felonies. The charge of first degree recklessly endangering safety is punishable by a prison term of not more than 12 years and six months, and/or a fine of up to $25,000. Distributing a hazardous substance is punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years and six months and/or a fine of $10,000.
Bail has been set at a $250 cash bond and a $1,750 signature bond. Conditions of bail include no contact with the victims and maintaining absolute sobriety.
Krueger’s next court date, a continuation of his adjourned initial appearance, has been set for 1:15 p.m. on Monday, April 22, in Ashland County Circuit Court.
By Rick Olivo Staff Writer
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Ashland man charged with doping dinner guests’ juice