When Will the ‘Last Place on Earth’ See it’s Last Day?

by Karen Dobner  tothemaximusfound@sbcglobal.net

Jim Carlson, one of the worst synthetic drug predators in the United States, his girlfriend Lava Marie Haugen, 32, both of Superior, his son, Joseph James Gellerman, 34, and former store employee, Jamie Paul Anderson, 24, have pleaded not guilty in response to an indictment on 54 counts of violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act.

Jim Carlson is considered by many to be one of worst synthetic drug dealers in the country.  For years, people have been lined up outside his doors before the store even opens.

He is also notorious for thumbing his nose at the law. Several times, he has opened his door for business the very day after being busted, selling the same products that continue to get him into hot water over and over.Synthetic Drugs Seller

Several late model vehicles, as well as nearly $3 million in cash, and 20,000 packages of herbal incense were seized in a July, 2012 raid.

The government said in the indictment that if it gains convictions, it will attempt to seize $1,343,352, $1,201,522, $387,488 and $64,950 — almost $3 million in total — from four bank accounts.

customer with babyThe U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that the defendants intended to mislead government authorities with false labels that, besides suggesting that the products weren’t drugs, failed to describe package content accurately and failed to include health warnings about their use.

Among allegations are that the downtown Duluth head shop sold products falsely labeled for use as incense, bath salts and glass
cleaner when they were intended to be consumed by humans to affect the functioning of the body.

“The result of this case will likely set a precedent,” said Duluth Mayor Don Ness. “A precedent that will be applied to every situation across the country.”People lined up

We’re not sure why he seems to feel that this case is different than any other of the cases involving the Federal Analogue Act and synthetic drugs.  We know of a few other cases where the defendants have not pleaded guilty and are planning on taking the cases to trial.

The trial is slated to begin March 11 at 9 a.m. before Judge David S. Doty.

Carlson has publicly boasted of sales exceeding 3 million a year.  We imagine that there’s a very good chance he is reporting and paying taxes on only a fraction of total sales.

Defense attorney Randall Tigue, who represents shop owner Jim Carlson, went so far as to predict the indictments will be dismissed. “Virtually all if it is going to get dismissed,’’ Tigue said after the hearing in U.S. District Court in Duluth. “I don’t think we’ll need a trial on this case. I think virtually all of the indictment is going to be dismissed.”

The indictment states that between March 2011 and September 2012, Carlson, Haugen, Gellerman and Anderson conspired to obtain and sell through the Last Place on Earth items misbranded as incense, potpourri, bath salts, exotic skin treatments, glass cleaner and watch cleaner. The products were not identified as drugs, though they were intended to be consumed by humans to affect the functioning of the body, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota.

The items marketed under names such as Smoking Dragon, Role-X Watch Cleaner, No Name and Binger, among others, are drugs as defined by federal law and subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Duluth defense attorney Richard Holmstrom represents Haugen, who does the bookkeeping and payroll for the business.

Holmstrom and Tigue teamed on a motion to have law enforcement agents preserve all of their rough notes from the investigation, including those made from September 2011 and July 2012 raids conducted at Carlson’s business.  The judge granted the defense motions.

After The Last Place on Earth was raided on July 25, 2012,  The Food and Drug Administration along with the United States Attorney’s Office asked the public to come forward to explain negative reactions caused by synthetic drugs sold at the store.

The To the Maximus Foundation has referred people to the FDA to report negative side effects.

The city of Deluth, Minnesota, filed a civil ‘Notice of Nuisance’ injunction in an attempt to thwart Carlson’s ability to sell synthetic drugs.  City Attorneys argued the court should take action, citing 2,000 police calls to Last Place in 2012, a cost of 100,000 dollars to the taxpayer.  This doesn’t include the medical and mental health costs associated with synthetic drug use, which are usually absorbed by the public.

Public Nuisance Hearing:

The city will be using an Aug. 28 surveillance tape outside the store as a piece of evidence in the case.

The tape shows customers heading out and pushing a man into the road.  They then head back and pull him toward the curb before leaving the scene.  The city said the video shows exactly what happens near the business and the city resources that have to respond.

In September of 2011, authorizes seized over $80,000 dollars in cash, 28 guns, and synthetic drugs from Last Place on Earth.

Tigue brought up the point that using the nuisance statute to curb a public health risk could create a dangerous precedent.

“That the nuisance statute allows you to close down liquor stores, tobacco shops, fast food restaurants and any of a number of places that cause public health consequences, and that’s simply not within the courts power within any definition,” said Tigue.

Judge Floerke will not make a decision on this injunction until both attorneys provide more information about their cases. That information is the chemical test results from the 2011 raid of Last Place and more specific definition of the substances the city wants banned to the court.

But, Carlson isn’t just responding to legal motions.

Carlson filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Duluth in response for what he called an unlawful with babyraid.

On December 12, Judge Floerke dismissed the lawsuit.

The judge ruled the city did not violate Carlson’s civil rights when it raided his downtown head shop and seized $83,510 in cash, about $250,000 worth of products,  largely synthetic marijuana, and 28 guns.

The judge also denied Carlson’s request to force the return of his cash, retail products and guns.

We couldn’t be happier.

Carlson did succeed in forcing the city to release the results of chemical tests conducted on products taken during the search. Carlson contends the tests show his shop had not violated the law.  But, Jim’s always shooting off his mouth.

Carlson filed a similar suit against the federal government for their July 2012 raid.

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