Man admits selling designer drugs
Las Vegan faces 20 years to life in prison<A href="http://www.reviewjournal.com/about/print/rjstaff.html#City%20Desk" target="_blank">
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS [/B]
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[/B]BATON ROUGE, La. -- A Las Vegas man faces 20 years to life in prison after admitting to selling designer drugs that a quadriplegic used in a fatal overdose.
Michael James Burton, 25, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to the most severe charge of a four-count indictment alleging drug possession and distribution that resulted in a death.
Defense attorney Frank Holthaus said Burton dropped plans to challenge the constitutionality of the laws prohibiting the chemicals that Burton sold because of the severity of the possible sentences.
"The only way to preserve such a challenge is to go to trial and risk a life sentence just to get an issue before the Supreme Court," Holthaus said. "It's just not worth the risk."
Burton, who is jailed without bond, will be sentenced later by U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola.
Burton's arrest resulted from a nationwide Drug Enforcement Agency investigation targeting Internet dealers of designer drugs marketed as "research chemicals." In July 2004, 10 people were arrested in Georgia, California, Arizona and Nevada. Others wee arrested in Great Britain.
The government accused Burton of operating an Internet site called American Chemical Supply to sell chemicals that were obtained in the United States, China and Germany. The substances sold have similar effects as Ecstasy or LSD, but a slightly altered chemical makeup, federal authorities said.
James Downs, 22, of St. Francisville, bought two vials of a chemical powder for $265 in early 2004, the government said. After taking some of the powder on March 9, 2004, he went into a coma and died four days later at a hospital, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Burton earned about $300,000 over three months last year and is still owed at least $123,000 from credit card companies. He agreed to forfeit all his profits.<BR clear=all>