Chicago man on trial in Buncombe for selling LSD at String Cheese concert
ASHEVILLE — A Chicago man who authorities say sold LSD to people attending a 2006 String Cheese Incident concert is standing trial on drug trafficking charges. It’s one of the most notable hallucinogenic cases in recent city memory.
Benjamin Thomas Schaeffer was caught with more than 6,000 doses of the hallucinogenic drug in a parking lot across from the Civic Center on Oct. 6 of that year, Assistant District Attorney Chris Hess said. Schaeffer is accused of possessing more than three times the entire amount of LSD seized by officers during last fiscal year, records show.
Hess told a Buncombe County jury in opening statements Wednesday that undercover officers moved in after watching people repeatedly come up to Schaeffer and give him cash in exchange for items he pulled from his pocket.
Asheville police were conducting surveillance because the jam band had a reputation for attracting illegal drug users to its concerts, the prosecutor said.
Officers found more than 1,200 hits of LSD in his jacket and about another 5,600 doses in a bag in his car, he said. They also found marijuana, hashish and ecstasy in the vehicle.
The bust was “very significant” in terms of the sheer volume of LSD seized, Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Williams said. Officers seized 1,857 hits of LSD between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009.
Schaeffer, 30, is charged with three counts of trafficking in LSD, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and ecstasy and maintaining a vehicle for drugs.
Hess said police found tickets on Schaeffer to other String Cheese Incident concerts in the region.
Schaeffer also was charged with failure to appear in court on a felony. Hess said authorities had to extradite him from California to Asheville to stand trial.
Defense attorney Bert Neal declined to make an opening statement to the jury.
CLARKE MORRISON • NOVEMBER 19, 2009
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