8 mid-Missourians indicted for alleged multi-million dollar conspiracy

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JEFFERSON CITY - Eight central Missouri residents and five California residents are under federal indictment for their alleged roles in a $6.6 million mail fraud conspiracy.

According to Tammy Dickinson, United States attorney for the Western District of Missouri, the fraud conspiracy involved allegedly distributing synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, at various retail locations in Callaway County.

The following people were charged in a 14-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City on April 20, 2016.

  • Fulton residents: Jason Lee Houston, 36; Shawn Michael Browning, 25; Timothy Christopher Sandfort, 30; Brandon Derek Rader, 31; Joshua Adam Sheets, 30; and Dara Leanne Shirley, 30.
  • Columbia resident Casey Dewayne Miller, 32.
  • Jefferson City resident Billie L. Bruce, 36.
  • California residents: Raja Amer Nawaz, also known as “Rex,” 41; Sheila Marie Nawaz, 39; Michael James Butler, 39; Curtis Whayne Gonzales, 55; and Aleksandr Polyanskiy, 24.

The indictment alleges that from Dec. 18, 2012 to July 16, 2015, all of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to "defraud the government and the public." The defendants allegedly sold synthetic marijuana under various names like “incense”, “aroma therapy” or “potpourri”. These items were labeled as “not for human consumption” but were actually intended to be used as a drug.

The synthetic marijuana was allegedly shipped from California and Nevada via FedEx and UPS.

According to the indictment, hundreds of shipments of synthetic marijuana was sent to and allegedly sold at Inscentives Resale in Auxvasse, two shops in Fulton, and at S&J Smoke Shop in Holts Summit.

These retail establishments grossed approximately more than $6.6 million from the sale of about 799 kilograms of synthetic marijuana according to the affidavit.

Law enforcement allegedly made undercover purchases of synthetic marijuana from these stores, and the affidavit said law enforcement officers seized synthetic marijuana from individuals who had just left one of the stores.

Officers also responded to reported overdoses on synthetic marijuana that involved people who had purchased the product from these stores.

All of the defendants are also alleged to have participated in two additional conspiracies; a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and a conspiracy to distribute controlled substance analogues.

Additional charges have been made against specific individuals in relation to controlled substances and money laundering.