Lafayette Attorney Sentenced to 121 Months in Prison for Drug Conspiracy, Money Laundering
LAFAYETTE, LA—United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Lafayette attorney Daniel James Stanford, 57, was sentenced to 121 months in prison for conspiring to distribute synthetic drugs, conspiring to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, and money laundering.
Stanford, of Lafayette, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote for one count of conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue, one count of conspiracy to introduce or cause to be introduced misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, one count of conspiracy to launder money, and five counts of money laundering. He was also ordered to serve six years of supervised release. The other defendants were sentenced on December 16, 2014. (*For a graphic listing the sentences of the other defendants refer to the end of this document.)
After eight days in trial, more than six hours of deliberation and testimony from 30-plus witnesses, a federal jury found Stanford guilty on August 29, 2014. Stanford was found not guilty on five counts of the indictment, which related to additional money laundering charges.
In September of 2012, Curious Goods LLC and co-conspirators Alexander Derrick Reece, 42 of Gainesville, Fla.; Drew T. Green, 40 of Roswell, Ga.; Thomas William Malone Jr., 48 of Roswell, Ga.; Boyd Anthony Barrow, 46 of Canton, Ga.; Joshua Espinoza, 51 of Marietta, Ga.; Richard Joseph Buswell, 46 of Lafayette, La.; Daniel Paul Francis, 44 of Dawsonville, Ga.; and Stanford were charged in a 16-count indictment with conspiracy to distribute synthetic drugs, conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and various money laundering charges.
At the time of the indictment, Curious Goods LLC was a business based in Lafayette that marketed smoking and other products in stores throughout Acadiana. The stores sold a product called “Mr. Miyagi” that was infused with synthetic cannabinoids. Although mislabeled as a potpourri, “Mr. Miyagi” was sold to be smoked for the sole purpose of getting the consumer “high.” The synthetic cannabinoids infused into “Mr. Miyagi” are considered Schedule I controlled dangerous substances under federal law. From March 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011, Curious Goods stores made approximately $5 million from the sale of “Mr. Miyagi.”
Barrow and Espinoza controlled and operated Pinnacle Products LLC/Pinnacle Products Group, based in Marietta, Ga. Pinnacle was the manufacturer of the “Mr. Miyagi” products and supplied the products to the local Curious Goods stores. Pinnacle obtained the synthetic cannabinoids used to manufacture “Mr. Miyagi” from NutraGenomics, which was located in Alpharetta, Ga., and was controlled by co-conspirators Green and Malone. NutraGenomics distributed synthetic cannabinoids throughout the United States.
Stanford, who is a criminal defense attorney, represented himself at trial. During opening statements, Stanford told the jury he was “absolutely not guilty of any of this.” However, at trial, the evidence showed that Stanford was actively involved with the Curious Goods enterprise, that he was well aware that the company sold a product called “Mr. Miyagi,” and that “Mr. Miyagi” was a substance that was infused with synthetic cannabinoids.
Exhibits introduced at trial exposed that “Mr. Miyagi” was specifically labelled “not for human consumption” but was sold as a product that would be smoked by users to get high. The evidence also demonstrated that the product was packaged to be intentionally false and misleading, marketed as potpourri. The exterior package label of “Mr. Miyagi” stated that it was to be used to refresh scents in drawers, closets, and cars. Evidence introduced at trial clearly demonstrated that Stanford knew the product was being consumed by humans, that it was harmful and not a scent refresher, and that the product was marketed to youthful customers. The intentional mislabeling and misbranding, spearheaded by Stanford, were part of a legal strategy and subterfuge to feign compliance with the law, to avoid law enforcement detection, and to avoid civil and criminal liability.
Among the many witnesses testifying at trial were local law enforcement and DEA Task Force agents who testified that during the execution of search warrants on December 8, 2011, they searched all Curious Goods store locations, including the company’s warehouse in Lafayette, and seized approximately 190 pounds of synthetic drugs worth approximately $517,000.
“The sentencing of this last defendant brings an end to this case, but not to our commitment to prosecute those who sell these illegal and dangerous drugs in our community,” Finley stated. “This case highlights how lucrative this industry is and the lengths that criminals are willing to go to profit while endangering the health and safety of citizens. Too many members of our community visited these shops that sold this poison, especially the youth. Stanford’s insatiable desire for money drove him to join this conspiracy and put many, many people in harm’s way. Today, his greed and criminal activity have consequences. Stanford misused his position as an attorney to facilitate the sales of a dangerous drug and to launder money. I want to thank the men and women of the federal, state and local law enforcement for bringing these defendants to justice. They are to be commended for years of hard work to get these illegal substances off the street and hold these criminals accountable. I hope that store owners, franchisees, investors and distributors who want to make a fast buck at the expense of others, think twice and understand that we will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute their criminal activity.”
Buswell was sentenced to 103 months in prison, Green was sentenced 117 months in prison, Malone was sentenced to 117 months in prison, Barrow was sentenced to 70 months in prison, Espinoza was sentenced to 61 months in prison, and Francis was sentenced to 42 months in prison. Green and Malone were also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. Curious Goods LLC was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine. The company was also ordered to forfeit $859,989 in illegal proceeds derived from the scheme, as well as two cars and a speed boat.
The DEA, FBI, IRS, HSI, Louisiana State Police, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Lafayette Police Department conducted this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Luke Walker, J. Collin Sims, and Robert C. Abendroth prosecuted the case.
|Defendants||Prison term||Supervised release||Fine||Counts|
|Drew Green||117 months||Three years||$20,000||1|
|Tommy Malone||117 months||Three years||$20,000||1|
|Boyd Barrow||70 months||Three years||1|
|oshua Espinoza||61 months||Three years||1|
|Daniel Francis||42 months||One year||2|
|Richard Buswell||103 months||Three years||1|
|Curious Goods LLC||$40,000||1|