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3 men face new charges for selling K2 in the Ozarks

August 28, 2013|edited news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Additional charges are filed against a man from Springfield and two men from Kirbyville for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2.  The government also seeks a money judgment of more than $1.3 million.

Travis Butchee, 37, also known as Donkey, of Springfield, and Michael Saguto, 42, and Christian Turner, 45, both of Kirbyville, are charged in a 16-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield on Tuesday.  The superseding indictment replaces an indictment that was returned on June 12, 2013, and contains 10 additional counts of distributing a controlled substance and money laundering, as well as additional forfeiture allegations.

Butchee opened The Man Cave, a retail business at 1927 S.Glenstone in Springfield, in February 2013.  Butchee and Saguto are the owners of Southern Spice, and Saguto is the owner of Blues Away, a head shop and novelty store in Memphis, Tenn.  Turner was employed by Saguto at Blues Away.

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The superseding indictment maintains the charge that Butchee, Saguto and Turner participated in a mail fraud conspiracy from March 1, 2011, to May 16, 2013.  Investigators believe they devised a scheme to defraud the Food and Drug Administration and to defraud the public in order to profit from false claims that synthetic marijuana products (such as Blazed, Red Eyed, Donkey Punch, Jolly Grape Giant, South of the Tracks, Baby Face, Scarface, Hillbilly Hay and others) -- which were mailed or delivered by commercial carriers – were “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption.”  In reality, the indictment says, these substances were synthetic cannabinoids that contained controlled substances and were intended for human consumption as a drug.

The indictment also maintains the charge that Butchee, Saguto and Turner participated in a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.  Investigators believe they manufactured and distributed synthetic cannabinoids using ingredients obtained through the mail from China and Thailand.

In addition to the conspiracy, the superseding indictment now charges Butchee, Saguto and Turner with six counts of distributing a controlled substance.

The superseding indictment also charges Butchee and Saguto with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy from March 1, 2011, to May 16, 2013.  Investigators found Butchee and Saguto conducted financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the unlawful mail fraud conspiracy and the unlawful drug-trafficking conspiracy.  The indictment says they conspired to wire funds to the People’s Republic of China in order to carry on those conspiracies.

In addition to the conspiracy, Butchee and Saguto are charged in three counts of money laundering related to specific financial transactions in February 2013.

As in the original indictment, Butchee and Saguto are charged with three counts of maintaining a place for the purpose of unlawfully storing and distributing a controlled substance.  Investigators found they used homes in Kirbyville, Merriam Woods, and Springfield to store and distribute synthetic marijuana.

Turner is also charged with being a felon in possession of firearms.  Turner, having been convicted of a felony, had a Ruger .22-caliber rifle, a Marlin 30-30 caliber rifle, a Rossi .243-caliber rifle with an interchangeable 20-gauge barrel, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a Remington .270-caliber rifle.

The indictment also has a forfeiture section that would require Butchee, Saguto and Turner to forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of the alleged offenses.  In the superseding indictment, that now includes a money judgment of $1,354,034, representing the total amount of money involved in the conspiracy.  The forfeiture also includes $31,580 that was seized by law enforcement officers, four rifles and a shotgun.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, COMET (Combined Ozarks Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Team) and the Springfield Police Department.

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