By Jeff Lehr
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A Kansas man who made more than $250,000 selling synthetic cannabinoids at a shop in Joplin has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to commit mail fraud and money laundering in connection with the enterprise.
Timmy J. Ridgway, 51, of Weir, Kan., appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, waived his right to a federal grand jury proceeding and pleaded guilty to the charges, including a forfeiture allegation that would require him to pay to the government his entire cash proceeds from the sale of K2, a synthetic cannabinoid product.
Court records indicate that Ridgway deposited $285,949 in cash proceeds from the sale of synthetic cannabinoids in his bank accounts between Nov. 8, 2012, and Feb. 5 of this year.
Ridgway is required under the plea agreement to forfeit the property where his shop, The Looking Glass, was located at 1860 W. 20th St. He also is required to forfeit a residential property he owns in Pittsburg, Kan., and all of the funds that were seized from his business and bank accounts when local and federal law enforcement served a search warrant at The Looking Glass on March 4.
K2 products are a mixture of plant material and a chemical compound similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. They are frequently labeled as “incense” or “potpourri” and marked “not fit for human consumption,” but are, in fact, distributed and purchased for consumption as a drug, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri.
Officers seized about 615 packages of a product labeled Bizarro, 268 packages of Orgazmo and $7,575 in cash when they served the search warrant at The Looking Glass. An additional $123,512 was seized from two of Ridgway’s bank accounts on the same day, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Jasper County Drug Task Force and the Joplin Police Department determined that K2 was delivered to The Looking Glass via United Parcel Service and FedEx from distributors and manufacturers in Ohio and California on at least 80 occasions between Dec. 29, 2011, and March 4 of this year.
Invoices seized at the shop recorded the delivery of almost 94,000 grams of synthetic cannabinoids, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
TIMMY RIDGWAY is facing up to 30 years in prison without parole and a fine of up to $750,000 for the K2 sales he rang up at a Joplin shop.