Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Joplin business owner sentenced to three years for fraud, money laundering
The owner of a Joplin, Mo., business was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a mail fraud conspiracy and to money laundering related to the sale of more than $1.1 million of synthetic marijuana, also known as K2.
Timmy J. Ridgway, 53, of Weir, Kan., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to three years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Ridgway to forfeit to the government $285,949, which represents the proceeds of the mail fraud conspiracy, as well as his business property in Joplin, a residential property in Pittsburg, Kan., and $299,037 that was seized from his business and bank accounts.
On July 22, 2013, Ridgway pleaded guilty to distributing synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, at his business, The Looking Glass, 1860 W. 20th St., Joplin. K2 is a mixture of plant material that has been sprayed or mixed with a synthetic chemical compound similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Ridgway attempted to conceal his drug distribution by marketing K2 products as “incense” that was “not intended for human consumption.” In reality, however, the K2 products were intended for human consumption as a drug.
Ridgway obtained approximately $1,129,500 from the sale of approximately 94 kilograms of synthetic marijuana between December 2011 and March 2013. Ridgway deposited $830,467 into his bank accounts during that timeframe. Law enforcement seized $299,037 from Ridgway’s bank accounts on March 4, 2013.
According to court documents, Ridgway filled a vacuum created by the arrests of other distributors of K2 in the Joplin area. Effective law enforcement, which led to the arrests of his competitors, did not deter Ridgway’s criminal conduct. In fact, Ridgway’s profits skyrocketed between the summer of 2012 and March 2013.
On March 4, 2013, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at The Looking Glass and seized approximately 615 packages of “Bizarro,” 268 packages of “Orgazmo,”and $7,575 in cash. The same day, approximately $123,512 was seized from two bank accounts.
The labels on these packages of synthetic marijuana stated that the contents were “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption.” However, Ridgway admitted that he distributed K2, which contained a controlled substance analogue, for human consumption.
K2 was delivered to The Looking Glass via United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx from distributors and manufacturers in Ohio and California on at least 80 occasions between Dec. 29, 2011, and March 4, 2013. Invoices seized from The Looking Glass recorded the delivery of and payment for 93,931.5 grams of synthetic marijuana.
This case was prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Jasper County Drug Task Force and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.