Jury upholds 51 counts against Jim Carlson in federal court

By KBJR News 1

Jury upholds 51 counts against Jim Carlson in federal court

October 7, 2013 Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 7:01 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A federal jury has upheld 51 of 55 counts against Jim Carlson, owner of the Last Place on Earth, for selling synthetics at his head shop in Duluth.

The verdicts were reached in U.S. District Court, in Minneapolis, after two and a half days of jury deliberations.

The defendants face a maximum of 20 years for each count of violating the Controlled Substances Act.

They also face potential maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States.

Carlson was taken into custody shortly after the verdicts were read.

Charges against Carlson included Conspiracy to Commit Offense against the United States, Distribution of a Controlled Substance, and Money Laundering. Carlson has taken into custody shortly after the verdicts were read.

The jury also upheld a misdemeanor count against Joseph Gellerman while two of four felonies was upheld for Lava Haugen, both employees of Carlson.

The 12 person jury deliberated for about 3 days before coming to their verdict.

Throughout the three week trial, prosecutors said the defendants knew they were selling recreational drugs.

Defense attorney Randall Tigue didn't deny that Carlson knew what he was doing, but argued that he did nothing illegal.

Defense Attorney John Markham said he's hopeful the complexities of the issue of synthetic drugs will bring leniency in the judge's consideration during sentencing.

"We're hopeful that, in that discussion, we can bring together an argument that will persuade him to see things differently in terms of the legal issues," said Markham.

Mayor Don Ness said the verdict came as a relief, and asked that the victims of synthetic drugs be remembered.

Mayor Ness also praised the work of Duluth Police, and City Attorney Gunnar Johnson adding that Monday's verdict sets a precedent for the future of synthetic drugs.

"Because of the strength of those partnerships, and the approach-this very patient, deliberate approach that we've taken to solving this problem-we have now created a path to addressing the problem of synthetic drugs in this country," Mayor Ness said.

Those partnerships Mayor Ness is referring to are those between Duluth and other cities looking for answers in dealing with synthetic drugs, along with the efforts of state lawmakers.

No word on how this will affect any of Carlson's pending cases in Duluth.

Attorney Randall Tigue said he's going to appeal this case

Billy Wagness
bwagness@kbjr.com