BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- Charges against a Columbia, Mo., man, who was arrested following the July 2011 confiscation of hundreds of packets of synthetic marijuana from Stoddard County convenience stores, have been dropped. The Columbia Tribune reports in a Dec. 3 article that the Stoddard County Circuit Clerk's office confirmed the dismissal of charges. The charges originated in Stoddard County and were filed by Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver.
In a sweep of area convenience stores on the morning of Thursday, July 14, 2011, law enforcement officers confiscated hundreds of packets containing synthetic or "analogue" drugs on display for sale to anyone over the age of 18. Analogue drugs, by definition, are drugs that have similar composition and effects as illegal drugs. During the sweep, store personnel at each of the six stores where the packets were seized were presented with a letter from Oliver informing them that "possessing, selling, purchasing, or otherwise transferring these compounds is illegal under Missouri law" and that the prosecuting attorney's office would "vigorously investigate and prosecute those who sell or possess these compounds."
Kevin Bay, now 48, was found to be the manufacturer of the packaged contents that were sold under the names Ivory, Euphoria, Cloud Nine, and Bliss, all through Bay's company, Bocomo Bay in Columbia. Bay was arrested at his Columbia, Mo., home on Aug. 29, 2011, and was charged through Stoddard County with two counts of the Class B felony distribution of an analogue controlled substance and four counts of Class D felony distribution of an imitation controlled substance. Police confiscated nearly 100 guns, along with $630,000 in cash, gold and silver from Bay's home.
Commenting on the status of Bay's charges, Oliver told The Daily Statesman following the recent publishing of the Tribune's article, "I can't confirm or deny whether charges were dropped because the case is sealed, but I can confirm that another agency is looking at him."
The Statesman was able to confirm, through the office of the Circuit Clerk, that records related to the Bay case were sealed on Sept. 12, 2012.
The "agency" to which Oliver refers is the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri Central Division. In a motion filed on June 12, 2012, the court addressed the subject of Bay's properties that were confiscated from his Columbia home at the time of his arrest. Efforts are underway on Bay's part for the return of those properties which are said to be valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those items included nearly 100 guns, along with $630,000 in cash, gold and silver.
The June 12 motion suggests the items remain in the custody of law enforcement because "these properties represent property that were proceeds of or were involved in alleged illegal narcotics offenses, sale of drug paraphernalia offenses, money laundering offenses, or structuring offenses.
A "parallel criminal investigation" of the alleged violations," the report states, "may lead to a criminal indictment."
At the time of the seizures, Oliver contended that an imitation controlled substance, unlike a controlled substance analogue, does not need to be chemically similar to a controlled substance. It merely needs to cause a similar effect as a controlled substance, he stated, or by its appearance or use leads a reasonable person to believe that it is a controlled substance.
Although store owners in July 2011 were said to be compliant regarding the confiscation, four of the business owners whose stores were included in the seizures later filed suit in federal court against both Oliver and Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner in the weeks following the confiscation.
The lawsuits contended that the sweep was "intimidating and menacing to owners, employees, and customers." Since the filings, more than $70,000 has been awarded to the shop owners by Stoddard County, an agreement that was reached out of court with negotiations involving the county's insurance carrier in order to avoid a jury trial.
Regarding the case against Bay in Columbia, Mo., Oliver pulled himself off the case in September 2011 after Bay's attorney, Michael Gutner of Columbia, filed a motion in Stoddard County asking that Oliver be disqualified based on the fact that Gutner planned on calling Oliver as a witness. When Oliver stepped down, the case was placed in the hands of Scott County Persecuting Attorney Paul Boyd.
According to Oliver, the sealing of the Bay records prohibits him from providing any information or comment on the case.
The Columbia Tribune in Columbia, Mo., contributed to this article.